I once had a dream where one of the “Shark Tank” investors (I think it was “Mr. Wonderful) had me on the show and asked: “Larry, if I wanted to invest one million dollars in a church, which church would you choose?”
I found myself stammering but managed to ask: “Why are you asking?”
He said: “I want to invest in a church with a future. When you convince me that you have one or more churches who claim a clear vision of reaching others for Jesus Christ and are undertaking bold initiatives toward fulfilling that vision I will be proud to invest in that church.”
“So, you want to invest in a large membership church?” I answer.
“Not necessarily,” he quickly responds. “There are many small churches with a wonderful future.” Then he paused. “However, a small church with a big vision won’t stay small very long.”
“Are you looking for a young church?”
“No,” he answered. “We old folks can make things happen but an old church with a bold vision for the future won’t stay old. Young people will flock to a church like that.”
“Ok, so maybe you want a church with stirring music and passionate preaching?”
He smiled and said, “Debates over worship styles and preaching usually start arguments and divide churches. Churches with a future find many creative ways to express their passionate love for God.”
Frustrated, I finally asked the right question: “So what is your definition of a church with a future?”
“Ah,” he said. “A church with a future would meet four basic criteria:”
- Vision: They have a God inspired vision.
- Plan: They have a plan outlining clear steps for the church and each member.
- Passion: They are passionate and willing to do whatever it takes.
- Fruit: A fruit tree with no fruit is useless. Show me results.
“Wow! You’re asking for a lot.” I said.
“I have a right to ask for a lot, he answered. “One million dollars is a lot of money but this is about more than money. A church with a future won’t really need my million dollars.”
“They won’t?” I asked. Now I was really confused.
He laughed and then added. “Of course, they would love receiving the one million but a church which meets the four criteria I outlined will have money, leadership, volunteers and most important of all –“
He paused for a moment and smiled. “Most important of all, they will have God and God will provide the resources they need. Not only would I be thrilled to invest my million dollars. I would join that church and give them my time, my resources, my future and most of all – my life.”
Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Mat. 5:13-15)
Suppose for a moment that you and your church were invited to appear on Shark Tank and you had the opportunity to ask for a one million dollar investment. How would you justify that your church was worth the investment? How well do you meet the four criteria?