“Intentional” is probably my favorite word. I am pretty sure those in the church I pastor get tired of hearing it. But I am convinced it is the key to a biblical ministry. In fact, it is the key word in our ministry. It’s how we operate. It’s how we make decisions as a church. It is how we encourage our people to live.
So, what does it mean for a church to be intentional? What does it look like when a church operates intentionally?
Here are several points that are included in how I present this concept to our church family.
1- ‘Intentional’ means refusing to simply go through the motions.
You cannot be intentional as a church and simply do things because they have always been done. Following tradition for the sake of tradition will instantly kill intentionality. Likewise, thoughtlessly mimicking what other churches are doing will have the exact same effect.
You must think through everything and honestly know why you are doing what you are doing.
2- ‘Intentional’ means making hard decisions.
You cannot be intentional and approach decision-making seeking to validate what you have always thought or support what you have always done. Intentional means honestly examining all options regardless of preconceived ideas and preferences.
3- ‘Intentional’ means knowing, understanding, and operating according to your church’s God-given purpose.
You will never be intentional in how you operate as a church if you are not convinced of your purpose. It is your purpose that drives intentionality. Knowing it, understanding it, and talking about it but yet not making decisions based on it is pointless, but yet that is what so many churches do.
You cannot be intentional about letting your purpose drive what you do and at the same time make decisions with the goal of appeasing disgruntled church members or catering to a ‘influential’ group seeking to control the church. Accomplishing the purpose God has given the church must always be the priority.
4- ‘Intentional’ means constantly evaluating effectiveness.
I am not suggesting that we should operate completely pragmatically, but that we should view what we are doing, and how we are doing things, as a matter of stewardship. If there is a more effective way of accomplishing a goal, to fail to do so is unwise and would make us poor stewards of the time, energy, and resources God has given us.
Let’s face it, there are many things churches do, not because it is effective, but because it is comfortable. We must resist the tendency to operate in this way.
5- ‘Intentional’ means having correct priorities.
Having incorrect priorities will just make you intentionally distracted and, at times, wrong.