Upending Your Operating System

You should read last week’s blog. It’s called “Why I Quit Pastoring in Hawaii.”

An angry friend emailed, describing the article as “rude, hateful, arrogant, harsh, prideful & verges on stupidity.” I wouldn’t have thought that but to each his own.

My deeper opinion might be even more upsetting if the blog was all my friend described. We need to turn our approach to church upside down.

OS Problems

The problem seems to be a difference of opinion over how we operate churches.

The prevailing operating system coddles people. At its best, the goal is to equip faithful volunteers maintaining an island of Christianity in a dying world.

The church needs a different OS because leaders are called to “to equip the saints for the work of ministry”(Ephesians 4:12 ESV). We’re not to settle for semi-regular church attencers who toss a few bucks in the bucket while expecting uplift and attention.

This OS builds disciples who make disciples that make disciples to the third or fourth generation.

The end goal is to transform cultures and nations. Filling seats on Sunday is not enough—even if you sweeten the deal with a few community service projects.

If we expect to disciple nations, let alone neighborhoods, our intended results extend beyond the needs of our congregation to a hurting and often hostile world.

A New OS Requires a Different Church Culture

We must swap a culture of spectators and volunteers for one of equippers and everyday missionaries. The patients should become the healers.

Effective congregation leaders will acknowlege and release the APEST gifts among us. It’s our duty to equip the equippers to equip the members if we expect to function as missionary outposts.

Jesus taught us to love God, love our neighbor, and make disciples teaching them to love God, love their neighbors and make disciples teaching them and so on—rinse and repeat. If done well, the process is self- replicating. The end goal is to conquer nations with the love of God.

Uncomfortable and Dissatisfied

The Great Commission should make every church leader feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied with merely shepherding the flock or managing a program.

The call is to inflame revolutionaries, not produce contented Christians.

Discipling nations includes comforting the hurting, freeing prisoners and healing the sick. But we’ll never get to heaing people outside the church and across oceans in a leader-dominated and Sunday-centric environment.

Call me crazy or everything my friend did, but I believe we are to incite spiritual revolutionaries. That won’t happen if we help our members to sit and be satisfied.

Comments are welcome, including criticisms.



16 thoughts on “Upending Your Operating System”

  1. Thank you x💯. This nails precisely the church the Lord pulled me out of during the pause of the pandemic, saying “you’re on a journey from church to Kingdom, with signs, wonders & miracles being the direction We’re headed.” What you’ve portrayed as the purpose is exactly what I’m stepping into, so I wholeheartedly confirm this post. I could never have seen or remotely understood tho, if I hadn’t been led out of that arena. Thank You Lord!

  2. Amen!!! I couldn’t agree more and it’s been so great to find a community of like-minded pastors this last year who feel the same way I do about my role as “pastor”.

  3. You are right Ralph.
    That is what Jesus did & taught, modelled and commanded.
    But for too long in the west we have invested our lives into a very different kind of church & mission.

    One wise church planter advised missionary church planters: “try to avoid the 3Bs. Buildings, Budgets & Bigshots!”

  4. I totally agree with last weeks blog. Small groups, mini-churches, Connect Groups, whatever you may call them has been the backbone of our church. There is no way a Pastor can attempt to be there for every member of a 1000 plus member church. It is in these groups where strong lastly relationships are made and nurtured. Thank you Ralph for making this part of the DNA of Anchor church.

  5. Hi Ralph,
    Thanks for your boldness. I agree wholeheartedly! I am wondering how regional and denominational leadership can help support and shift the current OS in our churches? Is it possible to shift the culture within our network and beyond from this stand point?

  6. Hello Ralph.
    Thanks for your blog. Brilliant.

    Also thank you for your latest free book. It clearly describes the micro church – you write so clearly – and I am convinced it is one of the best ways to reach Western Europe. I have taken the liberty to send it friends around the world.
    My little back to front book “How to multiply churches” that you wrote a forward for is now printed in French.

    Once again thank you.

  7. Ralph, I am so tracking with you here. I’m uping my game in the coming months, and getting a reboot upgrade to my OS. Thanks for the constant exhortations!

  8. You are absolutely correct. When I first went on staff as I got together with some women that 1 challenged to start different groups. Young, elderly,singles, and married
    It was difficult for me with some of the other pastors. In there mind I should be leading the groups. But God. Those groups got larger and larger. They were inviting friends that did not attend. I was not popular with 4 of the pastors. They were not supported nor nice to me. But Zac was there, encouraging me. That ministry blossomed more than I could ever imagine. And the 4 pastors left and started new church. Sad to say that it did not go well. People will say all sorts of horrible things but that does not mean that they are right. I still talk about you with the people I am mentoring. I have learned so much from you and Ruby. See this as an opportunity to continue with what you are doing because if God gave you the wisdom the enemy is there discouraging you 🙏💞💕💕💕

  9. We don’t realize that we are ALL mission-aries. We all have a mission, whether it’s to have a comfortable life, surrounded by friends and family, meet the needs we see around us, or follow our Lord where ever He leads. And we need leaders that can inspire and encourage us (by word and action), to adapt God’s mission for us, and then do it.

  10. I often wonder what effect would be gained if we pastors adjusted the occupancy of our place among the church to match Jesus’ words in Matthew 20:20-28. He does not call us “leaders”, and He makes clear the distinction between His disciples, their current and future position in relation to Himself and Father, contrasted against the positions and practices of men who rise to prominence in this world. If we pastors learned from the Lord how to live and function as servants among the ecclesia, instead of being over-dedicated and over-careful about nurturing our concepts and position of leadership, then perhaps, just perhaps we might become effective in the revolution of raising three or four generation-making disciples who are truly intimate with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He calls His disciples servants, not chiefs or even leaders. Yet, how do we behave and what do we expect?

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