I was visiting with a friend last night at our church's Disciple Now (aka – Reality Weekend). After our visit I got to thinking about our experiences in local churches. After listening to the Dutton Band lead us in worship and Todd Sanders do a fantastic job with his message, we came home and I visited with our group of high school boys before our leader (Jarvis Cannon) began their first session.
But this morning after breakfast, the conversation returned and I began replaying it in my mind. The thought came to me… There is a difference between high performance churches and high expectation churches.
High performance churches are stressful. The emphasis is on activity and numbers. I have served on the staff of a couple of high performance churches and trust me, it is no fun. They suck the life right out of you! Above all else, you must perform. Your ministry area must be growing, your numbers must be going up, people in your age group assignment must be joining and contributing at a successful rate.
High expectation churches are different. They have a different feel to them. Expectations are high, but the attitude in the church is different. These churches have a different atmosphere about them and it is tangible. As a person who has served on the staff of two high expectation churches and two high expectation state conventions, they are a pleasure to minister in. There is still stress, the ministry is still hard work, There are still goals and deadlines to meet, but the environment is different.
What I have learned from being in both of these situations is that most people thrive in an atmosphere where they are expected to minister to their highest potential. And one person who breaks through to his or her next level of growth provides "lift" to the whole team. Generally, in a short time the whole team is now performing (if I can use that word here) at a higher level.
I believe that a church's attitude toward expectation creates a spiritual environment in the church that is very appealing. Because of its very nature, a high performance attitude creates judgmentalism. Everything is evaluated off of numbers. High expectations create an environment of grace. These environments are tangible in the community.
The key difference in these environments? Do you want to belong to a church where you have to produce? Or a church where you want to produce?
Now don't get me wrong. I am a goal-setting kind of guy and I believe that one of the problems with many of our churches is a general lack of direction, goals, and most of all… accountability to the goals we set. The issue I am attempting to address is the environment behind the goals. In churches where performance is the driving force, the numbers are often the final product. Churches that have high expectations have a different feel to them. The development of the person becomes the goal.