As a child, I hated tests in school. The clammy feeling in your hands, the sound of the clock ticking, wondering if everyone else is ahead of you, and the sinking feeling that you studied the wrong things. I was not a good—or happy—test-taker.
Following my surrender to Jesus in my twenties, one of the earliest learnings in my new-found faith, at least in the church that I fell into, was the idea that God tests us. This did not excite me: “testing” brought up all kinds of past dread and fear. But I’ve come to believe that the Bible actually identifies three necessary—and frankly ongoing—kinds of “Divine Testing” that are critical for my personal growth and relationship with Jesus:
1. the Faith Test (can God be trusted?) 2. the Character Test (can I be trusted?), 3. the Willing Heart Test (am I willing to change?).
Here’s where this gets interesting for those of us who study what I call organizational discipleship. If it’s true those 3 tests are important to God in how he and I relate, I wondered if that’s a grid that could be placed on organizations—in our case, the local church? If so, the 3 most critical organizational tests may look like this: 1. Can the leadership of this organization be trusted? This is vital if empowerment (priesthood of all believers), innovation (new wine in new wineskins), scale (the mustard seed), and sustainability (“I’ll be with you to the end of the age”) are values that the organization (church) believes are indispensable. 2. Can the organization be trusted? In other words, does the organization itself have integrity? That means it’s whole in itself: the systems and processes that make the organization’s mission possible and efficient are in place, maintained, and updated regularly. 3. Is the organization willing to change? When something doesn’t work or when contexts or environments shift and the message or product is not understood, is the organization able to adjust and innovate to become more effective in its mission? Sadly, I can think of churches that failed in each one of those: The church whose leadership had a moral fallout or had drifted into entitlement. Or the church that was mired in bureaucracy or hopelessly disorganized. Or the church that refused to change until it aged out and sold its building to a subdivision developer. When any of those happen, a vital lighthouse in that community is extinguished.
Question of the Day: How do you think your church would answer those 3 tests?
DAVE WORKMAN | Elemental Churches Subscribe here to receive our blog each week in your inbox. No spam. No bull.