4 Things Churches Can Learn From Cheesesteaks And Our Forefathers


When you travel as much as I do, you often find yourself in unique and historic places. Having a deep-seated love for our nation’s history, I couldn’t help visiting a few historic sites during a recent trip to Philadelphia. While eating a legendary Philly cheesesteak, I mapped out a brief plan that would lead me to see the liberty bell, the Rocky statue, and a tour of Independence Hall.

Independence Hall is the location where our forefathers wrote and signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  The tour was short and sweet, but as I walked through the small yet incredibly historic building, I couldn’t help but ponder several things about our forefathers that apply to ministries of all types and sizes.

1. Sacrifice is required.

Have you ever stopped to think about the brave men that sat in that room for months formulating a new nation? Just the act of doing was considered treason by the King of England. It’s legend that that’s the very reason that John Hancock signed his name so large across the paper. Make no mistake, those men were laying their lives on the line, as the odds of the colonies actually winning a war against the British empire were slim at best. They knew what was at stake.

I often think about how much I’m sacrificing for the cause of Christ. We all know that Christ paid the ultimate price and requires us to do the same to live for Him, but how does that play itself out in the day to day routine of life and work of our churches?  Where are you sacrificing in your walk with God or in your ministry?  Where do we need to sacrifice more and how do we do that? One thing is certain, large scale sacrifice is required in order to achieve all that God has in store, otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth the effort.

2. Stay on purpose.

As I sat in Independence Hall, I couldn’t help but wonder what Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and all the others would think of where we’ve come as a nation. Was this what they envisioned so many years ago? Have we lost sight of what they prescribed for us? I’ve heard it said that if you’re off center of a target by a mere half-degree, over time, you’ll be so far removed from center that you might as well create a new target.

The same can be said for our churches and the vision laid out before us. What is the goal of church? Are we “on track” and actively trying to stay on target? If you’re in senior leadership, does everything you do point to the vision for your church? Are you constantly re-calibrating to stay in tune with the vision? Do you find yourself asking “Where are we going?” Get a clear and distinct vision for what God wants to do through you and your church and let everything support that cause. Re-calibrate regularly as a team and as an individual to ensure you’re not drifting.

3. Surround yourself with opposition.

Each member of the Continental Congress in 1776 was different. They each came from a unique background and had their own view of what was “best” for the colonies. Some were fighting to remain loyal to the King, while others were zealous about independence. I’m sure there were a handful that had no clue what to do and switched sides multiple times. Regardless, the arguments were fierce and lasted for days. There was beauty in the conflict. The arguments sharpened their thoughts, cemented their beliefs, and ultimately unified them. 

Many times it seems as though we take the easy road. We hire like-minded people cut from the same or similar cloth, and we all agree to take a singular path with little to no conflict. I’m sure that makes for simple and concise staff meetings, but whatever happened to “iron sharpens iron?”  Aren’t sparks a sign that things are getting straightened out? Don’t get me wrong; church teams all need to be on the same page at the end of the day, but when you hire those that come from a different ministry philosophy or model, you hire for long term health. It’s not the easiest path, and there is risk involved (see #1), but it’s well-worth the investment. When you have people on the team that will challenge your thoughts and give you alternatives, it helps clarify your vision, gives you healthy conflict, and ultimately sharpens your team.

4. Saturate with prayer.

Though this phrase may be said often, it couldn’t be more true. The men forming our nation were men of God.  Their faith was the foundation this country was built upon, and you know they spent time taking these plans before the throne.

If the churches and ministries we lead, the staffs we shepherd, and the volunteers we recruit are going to be successful, we have to spend time bathing our plans and strategies in prayer. 

Independence Hall is rich with history and full of lessons from which we can glean wisdom for our ministry team. The Rocky Statue is too, but I’ll save that for another day…

What other lessons can we learn from our nation’s forefathers?

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