What I Thought

More effort than I ever imagined goes into a Sunday morning service at GT Church. When I sat in the seats as someone new to the church, I assumed Pastor Bryan threw together some notes throughout the week and picked out the best Saturday afternoon. I figured the worship team practiced the songs, but I would have guessed Pastor Dan finalized everything just before walking out on the stage. I thought both men relied more on talent than preparation. I was wrong. Sunday services take up to 6 months to plan and it takes more than two people to plan them.

What I Learned

I became curious about the church and started asking questions. Many of my answers included phrases from the church’s mission statement. I understood mission, vision and corporate values from classes in college, but it was at GT that I first saw an organization live by them. After hearing the statements repeatedly, I began to understand expressions such as, “fully devoted follower.” The pastors and staff were intentional about how they answered my questions. GT Church does not just post buzzwords on the wall for décor. The values are part of the culture, from the lead pastor to the newest volunteer.

Planning is essential. It has to be. Three thousand people call GT their church home, so everything is considered. When leadership makes a big decision, they do not make it lightly. They ask tough questions, fully evaluate situations and ponder every choice while considering consequences. They invite God into decisions by praying together. They filter the options through the church’s mission statement. With these principles in mind, they can ignore partiality, biases, and personal preferences.

My Preference Doesn’t Matter

It doesn’t matter if I think the volume of the worship music isn’t loud enough. Maybe you feel it is too loud, but the music volume creates an environment that inspires people to worship and that helps GT Church accomplish its mission.

It doesn’t matter if I think the Sacred Grounds Café should partner with Starbucks and sell Dark Roast Sumatra. Perhaps you feel the church should not sell coffee, but a café offers people space to establish connections and that helps GT Church accomplish its mission.

It doesn’t matter if I think matching t-shirts for volunteer teams are awesome. It is possible you feel wearing the same shirt every Sunday is unbearable, but matching t-shirts make volunteers identifiable while encouraging a team atmosphere and that helps GT Church accomplish its mission.

The music volume, the flavor of coffee, and our church clothes are individual preferences. With thousands of church friends, there will always be preferences that do not line up. That is okay, because preferences change and God designed people to be unique.

My Purpose Does

Purpose does not change. God determined purpose before the foundation of the world. Purpose is much bigger than preference. Missing God’s big picture purpose in order to focus on small insignificant preferences is not worth the cost.

Each of us has a purpose, just like each of us has a preference. The alignment of our purposes is the important part. That is the reason GT Church exists. God made us for the same reason He made the church. For His people to come together as one and be unstoppable in their shared purpose.

We are the church, not the building, not even the staff members, but you and me, the Christ-followers. Grab your earplugs, Starbucks and t-shirt. Meet me at God’s house and we will accomplish our mission, GT Church exists to reach people and grow together in Christ.