According to Wikipedia, the expression ‘to put lipstick on a pig’ means…
“To put “lipstick on a pig” is a rhetorical expression, used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a product.”
I believe that the church is often in danger of doing this when we think that we are going to forge our way forward in a deep and meaningful way by adopting ‘best practices’ from other successful churches or organizations.
This way of thinking looks at what successful churches are doing and tries to learn from them. Sometimes we also look to business practices and leadership literature as primary sources.
I want to be clear that I’m not against any of these things. I believe that we can and should learn from others’ mistakes and successes.
But if your church or denomination is in real decline, thinking these approaches will change that is like…putting lipstick on a big.
What we really need is deep, Jesus saturated, discipleship.
We need churches with leaders who are calling for and living out submission to God.
We need churches that are hungry for more of God and will not be satisfied with anything less.
We need churches – and Christians – digging deep into God’s word.
We need obedience to what Jesus commanded of us.
If we don’t have those things, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter what our worship style is or our leadership structure or what committees we have or how nice our website is or how good our followup for visitors is or how organized our parking lot is or if you have a nice powerpoint presentation…
Lipstick on a pig.
If we’re after God’s heart and seeking his kingdom, the realm of ‘best practices’ has value.
But let’s make sure we’re keeping ‘first things first.’
Let’s be real about what we need.
We don’t (primarily) need better practices.
We need deeper desire and faithful obedience.