Church: Margin Maker or Margin Killer?

My last post was on the necessity of margin for mission. Not surprisingly, it got a lot of traction. I don’t think that’s because it was particularly insightful, well written or clever. It’s because we’re all a bunch of stressed out, overscheduled, busy people! And we’re all looking for something to make it better.

As a Christian, I believe that answer is ultimately found in Jesus and His gospel. I also believe following Jesus and being committed to a local church are inseparable. If you add all of that up, it should mean that a dynamic relationship with Jesus and participation in a local church increases the margin in our lives.

The problem is that most churches are margin killers, not margin makers.

Sometimes it feels like church leaders are determined to come up with so many programs, classes, conferences, meetings, trainings, discussions, forums, retreats, seminars, workshops and breakfasts that any possible white space on our calendars is obliterated. Of course, we still haven’t accounted for the sports leagues with other churches or the special Christian aerobics classes. Don’t forget about small groups, those are essential. By the way, only people who hate Jesus refuse to serve in the kids ministry. You also need to go on a missions trip. And, above all else, come on Sunday…and bring a friend!

The problem is we don’t have any friends to bring because we’re so busy doing church things that we haven’t developed an outside friendship in years. Margin killing churches are ultimately mission killing churches.

At Restoration City, we’re trying to be a margin making church. Here’s what that means:

• A simple process for discipleship. We don’t ask people to do much but the stuff we do ask is really important. To grow in a relationship with Jesus, we need to come to church on Sunday, join a community group and serve somewhere.

• A willingness to say no. Our commitment to our discipleship process forces us to say no to a lot of other good things. Margin gets killed one good thing at a time.

• A commitment to champion margin. Christians tend to feel guilty when they aren’t busy. American Christians are the worst. The gospel frees us from all of that and calls us to a life with margin.

I’m not saying we do this perfectly as a church. But I want to put the target on the wall as clearly as I can. We want to be a margin making church, not a margin killing church.

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