Are we a Thermometer Church or a Thermostat Church?
The article found on Ed Stetzer’s blog (follow link below) is one I thought would help us evaluate our attitude and actions as we become more involved in our neighborhood and our city. The question is this: Is our church more like a thermometer or a thermostat? Here is the difference:
- Thermometers point out what currently is, expect others to do something with that information, and they provide us with the standard—they are never wrong. Thermometers are indicators.
- Thermostats, on the other hand, take the information from the thermometer and do something about it. Thermometers take responsibility for the environment and focus on solutions. Thermostats are change agents.
Here is a quick summary of a “thermostat church.” Please click on the link and read the entire blog.
As you read this article, please be praying and thinking how you and our church can be change agents in our schools, neighborhood, apartment communities, for single moms, for the poor, the neighborhood you live in, partnerships with other churches and ministry organizations, etc.
If you want to plant and lead a thermostat church…
Listen to your community.
God is already at work in your community, so get better at asking questions. Even if you’ve lived in your community for a long time, take the posture of a missionary and ask God to show you who the people of peace are—the influential gatekeepers in your community. By first listening, God will show you the unique kingdom impact that he wants your church to make.
Live in your community.
Personal Note on this point: I agree with the writer in general. Again, we must consider context and history of each situation. By God’s providence, he placed us in our current location. While most people in our church body do not live in the neighborhood of our church, we live within the city that we are to reach. The neighborhood is our first responsibility. Our church body is scattered for a good reason. God wants us to make an impact upon our entire city, and not just our city, but also our county. Again, the scope of our outreach begins right around us. We must be willing and ready to sacrifice and think of ways we can get the gospel into the homes right around us. We also need to prayerfully consider how we can make an impact in the county in which we live. Our desire is to be able to plant churches in needed areas of our county.
Meet the needs in your community, but never take the Gospel out of it.
I wish this last point also started with the letter “L.” I guess I could’ve said, “Love your community?” Nevertheless, when planting and leading a church, it’s important that you are actively meeting the needs in your community in an ongoing fashion. However, make sure that everything you do has the Gospel at the center of it. That doesn’t mean you need to share the Gospel every time you help someone who is far from God, but that does mean that you are always praying for an opportunity to share the Gospel with those who are far from God. Did you catch the difference? Don’t do good, just for good sake. Do good so that others will see your good works, experience the love of God, and glorify God (1 Pet 2:12, Matt 5:16).