Among other things God wired me to do church consulting. Back when I started over 25 years ago it wasn’t called that. It really didn’t have a name. Or if it did I didn’t know it. A pastor who was mentoring me when I was a collegian asked me to evaluate his ministry. Within a week I gave him a written report with a suggested strategy to consider for improvement. He liked my work and referred me to other pastors. They were hesitant at first because I was considered a kid who had not even finished college yet much less graduated from seminary. At his urging I began to get requests from pastors and church leaders. With every opportunity my passion for the church and experience with consulting grew and developed.
From over 25 years of working with churches across America I want to share 10 things the church does that scares the crap out of me. Actually there are 30 but “Top 10” is a better title. These are not shared in any order of priority but at random. Churches scare me who…
1. Forget their purpose – This scares me silly but I see many churches who totally forget the purpose Jesus has for the church…the Great Commission. I still find it odd how we can be involved in so much time consuming stuff that is only remotely related to our purpose and not even realize it.
2. Is in denial – I have seen many churches who are in denial of where they are and how they got there. Kind of like a house is on fire but you pretend everthing is fine. Crazy. You cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.
3. Without vision – When there is a fog in the pulpit there is a mist in the pew. A leader without a God given vision is headed for disaster. The vision must come from the Sr. Pastor and not another church or pastor that you heard speak at a conference. I love Rick Warren, Bill Hybels,Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, Craig Groeschel, Mark Batterson and all those guys too. But a vison is personal and from God. Without a vision the people will perish.
4. Without faith – We preach without faith it is impossible to please God and somehow from a multiple of reasons or excuses we forget that we need faith to experience what God wants to do in the church. The opposite of faith is planning for those things that we can see the funding for or have the staff for. Attempt great things for God.
5. Is not growing. God wants your church to grow. If anything living is not growing it is dying. Period.
6. Is fearful. One of the questions Bill Hybels will ask when a church is not growing is what are you fearful of? Are you fearful of losing people? Not making everyone happy? Failure? Being replaced? Losing control? Whatever it is it will keep you from becoming what God wants.
7. Is controlling. The second question Bill Hybels will ask when a church is not growing is what are you controlling. Being controlling in any area is not healthy and in fact dysfunctional. This trait is a cousin to fear and will never allow your church to flourish. A few years ago I consulted with a church in the northeast with so much potential but in reality has not grown in over 10 years. The lead pastor is a control freak and though he wants his church to grow he is unwilling to give up conrol of anything within the church. Until he does so the church will continue to die.
8. Is self-focused vs. Jesus focused. Some churches are like a country club that exists for the purpose of its members vs. glorifying Christ. When ever you put yourself ahead of Jesus you are more self-focused.
9. Is not a praying church. What happened to my father’s house being a house of prayer? We often forget this and think taking a minute to ask God to bless what we are doing is it. Without prayer a church will never experience the supernatural power available for the asking. It was so refreshing to visit the Tuesday night prayer meeting that Pastor Jim Cymbala started at the Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC. To get a seat I always arrived about 2 hours early to attend this prayer meeting. The large sanctuary was always packed with folks from every age group and represented about 100 different countries. It is the responsibility of the Sr. Pastor to create a culture of prayer dependence and power.
10. Does not do regular evaluations. Most people understand to stay healthy regular checkups are needed. The same is true for the church. The Sr. Pastor can do this himself if he knows the questions to ask and is a strategic thinker. It is helpful to bring in someone from the outside who can offer more objectivity and discernment. Be careful to consult with someone who has the discernment and integrity to be honest with you. This is not a given. Unfortunately I have seen church consultants who would share their evaluation with me but lacked the courage to share the whole deal with the church that was paying them. Look for a consultant who will personalize a strategy to fit your vision vs. offer the same plan they give every other church around. This is far too common among consultants. If a church thinks they need but cannot afford to hire a consultant they should pray and ask God to provide one anyway. My organizaion works pro bono for churches that need help but truthfully lack the resources.
Okay. This if 10 from my list of 30 things. What would you add?