Whenever you see a plateaued church, or maybe a church that’s pretty good but never quite breaks through, you can know for sure that one or more key elements is missing. It lacks Goldilocks Freedom, a Pivotal DesignTeam, and/or the Book-of-Acts culture.
The foundation of a prevailing church is Goldilocks Freedom. When Goldilocks sneaked into the bear house and found it empty, she was hungry. Papa Bear’s porridge was too hot. Mama Bear’s porridge was too cold. Aaahhh, but Baby Bear’s porridge was just right. When Goldilocks needed a nap, one bed was too hard. The second was too soft. And Baby Bear’s bed was just right.
Prevailing churches always operate in the climate of freedom. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is,” Paul wrote, “there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). If your church belongs to a parental denomination, it cannot prevail. God might breathe life into it as He did with Lazarus, but until someone unbinds the body, it’s not going anywhere. After Jesus woke up Lazarus, He instructed the crowd to “Unwrap him and let him loose” (John 11:44, The Message). Not enough freedom in a church results in frustration and suffocation. The church must be unloosed.
On the other hand, too much freedom results in chaos. Every church leader can tell a disheartening story of a church or pastor who had no accountability. Or the church was wrecklessly disorganized. Leaders ripped the guardrails off the highway and careened forward with no discipline or order. Goldilocks Freedom is the just-right balance. In order to prevail, the local church must have freedom in the areas of staffing, governance, and money while they erect and heed the guardrails that protect the ministry.
While the foundation of a prevailing church is Goldilocks Freedom, the heart of a prevailing church is a Pivotal Design Team. First, you have to have a team. Churches led by a Lone Ranger pastor are destined to be one, (not so) big, (probably not very) happy family. Second, the composition of the team is paramount. You need at least three people with a combination of certain gifts and personality. (You can read more about the mix of the team here.) Third, a few churches have a well-balanced team that never really gels. The right people are on the bus, but no one is driving. Or they can’t agree on where to go. Or they aren’t really that passionate about building a healthy, unselfish, growing church.
Large books could be written on the Pivotal Design Team, but here are a few non-negotiables that are often overlooked. (a) The team must epitomize strategic synergy. They love serving together and they bring out the best in each other. Together, they are a genius. (b) They have a collective hubris. They are absolutely convicted that God is sovereign, He is the Head of this Body, and He is ready to move mountains to make this church a powerful force for good. (c) They are clear that they may know enough for today, but they don’t know enough for tomorrow. They inhale information, guidance, and wisdom from those who have gone before them. Their learning curve resembles a cliff.
The climate is a Book-of-Acts culture.