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hope for churches in stress


Every living organism is shaped by its DNA. This molecule of intertwined strands, knit into nearly every cell, carries genetic instructions for the development and function of the whole organism.

Similarly, every church has a spiritual DNA. This formational calling is embedded in the strengths and opportunity assigned by God. Once identified, this DNA can direct your church to a distinct—and fruitful—place of witness and service (Jn. 15:16).

To determine the DNA of your church, first describe the people in the church. Identify the predominant ages, gender, ethnicities, income, vocation, education, values, activities, and needs. Summarize these traits in a single paragraph.

Do the same for people in the community. Keep in mind that people function in overlapping communities—in families, workplace, neighborhood, and recreational groups. Again, describe their characteristics in a paragraph.

Now compare the two sets of people. What traits do you have in common? What activities bring you together? What values do you share? What are the points of intersection?

Like individual believers, your strengths as a church are an indicator of your particular place and calling within the body of Christ (Rom. 12:3-8). They mesh with corresponding opportunities for witness and service in your community.

God wants everyone to come to Christ (2 Pet. 3:9). In time, God will ask you to move beyond your natural affinities (Acts 1:8). But to start—or for a church in decline, to restart—identify your DNA and embrace your God-given assignment.

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