I can still recall that magical moment when an automobile levitated right before my eyes. I was walking with my parents down a dimly lit sidewalk in Italy, when the sound of laughter and bantering among a group of men gathered on the street corner caught my attention. They swarmed around a small Austin Mini that was wedged between two vehicles, and at the sound of one man's thunderous voice, the automobile was raised into the air and then effortlessly carried into the middle of the street. Then, without hesitation, the man giving audible instructions jumped into the driver's seat. His friends found their respective places in the car, and they drove off into the night.
As a young, impressionable child witnessing this demonstration of brute strength and raw power, it ignited a passion in me to become like these men one day. It was not necessarily their physical strength that intrigued me the most, but the incredible ease and confidence with which this small group of men tackled what seemed like an insurmountable task. We see this type of power displayed in words like teamwork, cooperation, and unity. For me, the word that captures this type of human-generated power best is alignment.
a• lign• ment or a• line• ment (n)
- The arrangement of something in a straight line or in an orderly position relative to something else;
- The correct position or positioning of different components relative to one another, so that they perform properly;
- Support for, or a political alliance with, a particular person, group, or point of view;
- A ground plan, especially one showing the course of a road or railroad track.
We recognize the power of alignment whenever a group of people is willing to divest themselves of self-determined outcomes and invest their talents, will, and energy in a common direction in order to accomplish a common goal. Simply put, if your goal is to make disciples that multiply ministry through relationships, then you will want to harness the power of alignment in your church.
But this does not necessarily mean that everyone attending your church on Sundays will be forever locked into a sermon-based small group series like 40 Days of Purpose. There are options.
In our church family, for example, we've been able to extract some of the principles and lessons learned from sermon-based small group series and combine them with an annual ministry rhythm that is informed by our common church culture. This combination has proven effective to move our entire church family forward in a common direction, while also providing seasons of flexibility for individuals and small groups to customize their own spiritual growth pathway.
Common Church Culture
Culture is defined as the prevailing attitudes and behavior that characterize the functions of a group or organization. Some churches borrow a model of ministry from another church that they can adapt and implement within their own congregation in order to accomplish their mission, and there are many good ministry models available that will provide a framework for effective ministry.
However, when you develop a biblically based church culture as the basis for all your organizational priorities, then you provide each member of your church family with a common set of empowering principles for ministry. Individuals and small groups now have a metric for which they can measure their effectiveness and periodically gauge their spiritual growth. Placing the development of a church culture in priority over the adherence to a particular ministry model will keep the structure of your church flexible enough to adapt to the variety of ministry expressions that will make up your church as it grows into the future.