Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Single-Issue Voters

Some people can get so focused or obsessed about certain issues that they lose objectivity.  There's a single issue that they are so passionate about that it becomes the main issue for them in any church they attend; often exceeding everything else the church is accomplishing.   Some of the common questions I encounter from single-issue voters are:  “What version of the Bible do you use?” or “What do you believe about eschatology?” or “Why don’t you have Sunday School?” or “Who's in charge?” or “What’s the role of women in this church?” or “What kind of music do you play?

Or it might be objections to Christmas trees, Halloween, or the Easter Bunny.  It might twirling in the isles or people exercising their glossolalia in the service.  Their hot-button issue might be majority rule, a pet doctrine, personal convictions, or the King James Version only.  Whatever.  The check-list is endless.

It doesn’t matter how much kingdom work a church might actually accomplishing, the only thing important to them is their personal hot-button issue.  They are single-issue voters.

Case in point:  A few years back a man and his family left our church because I would not teach a specific doctrine he liked.  It was a denominational doctrine of his previous church.  I said, "Look at what we are accomplishing here.  People are being saved, baptized, and discipled.  Groups and classes are flourishing.  Community it taking place.  I go through the Bible verse-by-verse and let the Scriptures speak for themselves.  People are growing in knowledge of the Word.  Lay-ministry is flourishing all over the place.  The gospel is preached, Jesus is lifted up, and God is being honored by our fruitfulness... And it's all taking place without teaching that specific doctrine of yours." 

But it didn't matter.  The only thing that mattered to him was this single issue of his.  So he and his family left PCC and ended up in a nondescript little church that was filled with all sorts of trouble and was accomplishing little or nothing for the kingdom.

There's nothing wrong with feeling strongly about certain issues related to the Christian life, but when those feelings exceed our passion for the gospel itself, kingdom advancement, and other believers in the Body, something is wrong.

If he wanted to beleive that doctrine, fine, but it didn't have to be grounds to dis-fellowship himself from the PCC Body of believers.  He walked away from 400 people because I (an individual person) would not do a single thing for him.  His departure (under those circumstances) spoke more about HIS immaturity than it did that something might be wrong at PCC.

That same scenario has been repeated to me hundreds of times over... and for reasons as varied as the people who have opinions.  There's no end to it.  People have left PCC because we don't have a banner ministry... a dancing ministry... Christian concerts... fund raisers... cake walks... the same government as their last church... the same methods as their last church... gospel sings... Sunday School... Valentine Banquets... blood drives... Sunday night services.... revival meetings... add infinitium.  And much to my surprise, these issues often arise from people who have taken our 101 Seminar - in which we clearly explain our church's mission, statements, strategy, and structure - and they have signed our membership covenant saying they are in agreement with PCC's philosophy. 

My only recourse has been to stand up to these single-issue voters and keep the main thing the main thing.

Thankfully, most people who authentically commit to PCC are more interested in what's good for the whole church, rather than a personal agenda.  Their focus is on broader issues like our vision, our mission, the role of prayer in our church, the importance of reaching the lost, the integrity of our leaders, our view of Scripture, how many people we have baptized, and a dozen other matters that are actually related to the Great Commission.  To them, kingdom advancement is more important than knit-picking.

I just love it when people say, “Pastor, tell me about your vision,” or “Tell me about your church”, or ask  What's the mission of this church?  Questions such as these reveal that a person is actually interested in finding about who we are and what we are doing.  This is something I enjoy immensely because it gives me the opportunity to enthusiastically share all the good things happening at PCC.

These are the kinds of people who usually end up as key players in our church family.  They buy-in, serve, give, pray, give, sweep the floors, follow their leaders, lead teams, and take care of the babies in the nursery when nobody else will.  They teach classes, mow the grass, trim the hedges, clean flowerbeds, serve Communion, clean the building, and get under the heavy end of the log when needed. They drape a towell over their arm to serve.

And they often end up in positions of authority.

Not so with single-issue voters.  Their single-issue emphasis is a deal breaker.

Real kingdom work is actually being accomplished here.  People are being saved, baptized, discipled, changed by God’s power, and marriages are being put back together. Teenagers are on fire for God. Children are being instructed and grounded in God’s Word.  Volunteerism is at an all-time high.  Currently, we have about 150 volunteers serving at PCC in a variety of roles with varying degrees of authority.  Our Sunday services have never been better.  Plus, new ministry teams have been formed since the beginning of the year... and their enthusiasm is off-the-chart!  All of this adds up to a dramatic demonstration of what the power of God is truly accomplishing in our midst.  At this very moment, we have the right people for the current season we are in - they are a good team fit.

I truly believe that 2013 is going to be a bust-out year for us.  Just watch.

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