Excellence

When I was growing up my family was frugal.  Mum was very good at finding value for money when we shopped.  There was no reason to ever buy the top of the line model if something cheaper did the job.  That’s how our family did things and that attitude has been instilled into me.

When it comes to the church’s money I just automatically assumed that the same applied, and even more so.  The church has a vital mission – the most vital in the world.  The church has limited resources so it must steward those resources carefully so that it can do what God is calling it to do.  What a shameful thing if the church’s money – raised on the back of generous giving by its people – is wasted by not getting value for money with it’s spending.

I think that the Anglican Church that I was a part of at that time had a fair few people who naturally thought along the same lines.

When I started studying at Hillsong Church’s bible college in 1992 that attitude ran headlong into the way that they did things.  I was stunned.  At college the word “excellence” got thrown around quite a lot.  I distinctly remember the worship leader and musician Geoff Bullock one day saying words to the effect, “if the church is going to buy a microphone stand then the church should get the best microphone stand that can be bought because we serve the best God around.”  The whole idea was that because we are the church, because we serve the one true God, we should do all our activities with excellence because that’s how God does things.  When God created things they were “very good”.  When his people do things should they not reflect the character of the God that they serve?

It is fair to say that my frugal little cage was being rattled.

That was 20 years ago now and I have had plenty of time to reflect on this approach.  I find myself still drawn to the Hillsong approach.  It is not a matter of producing multi media presentations that are every bit as good as what Hollywood is making on multi million dollar budgets.  It is a matter of not settling for something that is not as good as what it could be.  It is a matter of saying that we will do the best job that we can do, and we will trust God to provide the resources.  If he wants us to do it then he will provides the resources to do it well.

It is so much more than just an attitude that determines what microphone stand we will buy – a commitment to excellence determines how hard we do follow up when someone new attends church.  It determines how much we care about doing prayer right, about doing discipleship right, about serving with all that we have.  Excellence demands that when a program is OK, it does not stay that way, it gets better.  It goes from OK to good and then from good to brilliant.

Excellence sets the church free from the attitude of scarcity that I think that I took into church life from my own personality.  The gospel is free, but getting the gospel into the lives of people is expensive.  Yes, a church will usually be working within a budget.  But the bible says that our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  That’s not a reason to exceed the budget, that’s a reason to do what we do with excellence, knowing that his provision will raise all that is needed for next year’s budget as well.

John

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2 Comments to “Excellence”

  1. Jesus wasn’t a scrap interested in money. It had no power over Him at all. That’s why Jesus is so refreshing because He is unlike anyone else.

  2. On a side note – cattle are one of the biggest polluters of methane and contributors to climate change, so maybe God should change to ostrich on those hills as the don’t pollute methane gas much at all. Back to your blog, I am thinking God is wanting us to be more focused our neighbour rather then making bigger barns, and I am not sure if your microphone theory would be well received by the Christians in the worlds poorer countries. I guess it is not burying your talent, but is it investing it wisely for the service of a God who wants justice for his people across the world and has said woe to anyone who stops or harms any of these little ones (children across the world). I would go for the cheaper microphone stand that works, excellence is in what I do not what I have.

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