The word “distinctive” is defined as a characteristic of a person or thing that distinguishes it from all others. Scripture emphasizes that each person as well as each church is distinctively designed and known by God.
Healthy churches have learned the importance of putting members in places of service that account for their distinctive divine design. Effective churches also have learned the importance of identifying, celebrating and strategizing around the church’s distinctive divine design.
How To Discern Your Church’s Divine Distinctives
Accurately identifying your church’s divine distinctives requires observation, reflection and listening. The following exercises illustrate two such approaches to determining your church’s divine design.
Exercise #1 – Focus Groups: With this approach various small groups representing the demographics of the church are gathered and asked to respond to the same set of questions.
The following list includes questions from the areas of church life that typically serve as sources of church distinctiveness. The most frequently mentioned responses to each question will provide clues to how your members perceive the distinctiveness of your church.
- Leaders: What are the distinctive strengths of the staff and lay leaders in our church?
- Heritage/History: What is distinctive about our heritage and history?
- Values: What distinctive convictions do our members share?
- Gifts/Talents: What distinct gifts and talents do our members have?
- Worship: What is distinctive about our worship?
- Discipleship: What is distinctive about the way we do discipleship and small groups?
- Ministry/Service: What ministries and opportunities for service are distinctive to our church?
- Evangelism: How do our people talk about the Great Commission? How do we live out evangelism?
- Missions: What is distinctive about the way we approach missions? How do our people talk about Acts 1:8?
- Vocabulary: What distinctive words and phrases get repeated around here the most that speak to mission, vision, and values?
- Facilities/Location: What is distinctive about our location and facilities?
- Appeal: Why do people drive by other churches to come to our church?
Exercise #2 – A Distinctives Audit: With this approach a survey of potential church distinctives is prepared and distributed to key leaders who know the church well. Participants rank the descriptive words according to the extent to which they represent the church’s divine distinctives. Below is an example from which you can develop your own Distinctives Audit.
Using the scale of 1 through 5, indicate the number that in your opinion best expresses to what extent the following distinctives characterize and are important to our church. Work your way through the list quickly, going with your first impression, placing your number of choice to the left of each word.
1= Not Important; 2= Somewhat Important; 3= Important; 4= Very Important; 5= Most Important
- Parents as disciple makers of their children
- Biblical Community
- Cutting Edge Technology
- Team ministry
- Reproducing/Multiplying (leaders, churches, other believers)
- Live, Work, Play Evangelism
- Gift Based Ministry
- Spiritual Formation
- Life Transformation
- Leadership development
- Refuge for the hurting
- Church within a church
- Small Groups
- Kingdom Growth Oriented
- Being Missional
- Come as you are
- High expectations
- Risk taking
How To Maximize Your Church’s Divine Distinctives
Once you have identified your church’s divine distinctives it is important to not let them simply become a sign on the wall but instead a driver for strategic conversations and initiatives. Some ideas to consider include:
- Provide your Divine Distinctives on the Guest/Visitor’s page of your website to help those checking your church out to know what sets you apart from other churches in the area.
- Review your Divine Distinctives in the New Member Class as a way of acquainting new members with how God has worked in your church and connecting them into body life.
- Share your Divine Distinctives during the interview process with prospective staff to help discern “fit.”
- Use your Divine Distinctives during strategic planning to brainstorm initiatives that capitalize on the church’s uniqueness.
- Develop a sermon series around your Divine Distinctives to challenge the congregation to live out the church’s distinctives.
Posted on September 27, 2016