The topic yesterday was titled “10 Things the Church Does That Scares the Crap Out of Me.” According to my stat counter it was a big hit so today I want to share 10 more from my list of 30. In case you missed reading yesterday this blog comes out of over 25 years of church consulting and church staff experience. This list is random and not in order of priority.
10 More Things the Church Does That Scares the Crap Out of Me!
11. Refuses to take risks – Fear of failure is the root of refusing to take risks. It is the opposite of who God calls us to be. It’s okay to be scared! It is not okay to allow it to control you. If it were impossible to fail what would you attempt for God? Life is too short not to go for it. God is too big not to go for it. If you’re not failing enough you’re not risking enough.
12. Pastor Driven vs. Team Driven – When I served on staff at Skyline under John Maxwell everyone knew he was the Sr. Pastor. It was also clear we were on a team. He was a great mentor and model for the principle together everyone accomplishes more. The congregation was part of that team and felt ownership. This is one reason John saw such encouraging financial results with giving.
13. Refuses to change – I will never understand why churches who are not growing refuse to change. You may have heard that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Enough said. I think I have a previous blog post on Preparing Your People For Change.
14. Is not grace filled – We should be so overcome and humbled by Gods grace that not showing grace to others is never an issue. The Sr. Pastor is responsible for creating a culture of grace. Everything (including grace) does rise and fall on leadership.
15. Does Not Teach Or Practice Matthew 18 – When I was a collegian a girl in our college ministry went to the pastor to request an appointment to discuss an issue she had with me. Dennis Beatty, college pastor at the time asked her if she had spoken to me. When she replied no he told her the biblical principle was that she talk to me first. She never spoke to me or Dennis about the issue (whatever it was) again. I have never seen anyone model this better than Dennis, John Maxwell or Dan Reiland. They refused to allow anyone to score an end run by going to the pastor first to gossip discuss an issue. Unfortunately this is a problem in many churches and why our workshop on Honest Conflict Resolution vs. Peace Faking is a regular request.
16. Has too many ministry programs – In the local church we often equate effectiveness with how many ministries or programs you have. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reminds me of the old quote jack of all trades but master of none. Ever read Simple Church by Eric Geiger? Dan Reiland recently had an excellent Pastors Coach article on this topic which you can get by email to his assistant Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
17. Does not follow up visitors – After years of seeing this it still shocks me to find non-growing churches not do follow up. Many times over the years Todd and I have visited churches and not received a letter or call even when we have requested it. Amazing. In the past few months I went to two church websites requesting info on worship services and never received a response. I recently emailed a pastor to ask about their youth ministry. He acknowledged my email with an “I am out of town but will give you a phone call next week.” The pastor never called. My sister and family visited a struggling church in her city and there was no type of follow up card or tear off in the bulletin. Though people were nice and spoke to her the potential relationship ended with that first encounter. It’s not necessary to bombard folks with an unannounced visit but mailing a thank you card or letter with info about your church is one of the easiest things to do. Some churches do a handwritten thank you while some send an informal email. There are many ways to reach out to a visitor and no excuse for not doing so. We like to make multiple suggestions to help a church choose what fits their culture.
If you feel called to have special outreach events please don’t spend the time or money without giving guests an opportunity to respond to Christ and offer follow up. There are many creative ways to do this.
18. Does not disciple – Sometimes a church is good at attracting a crowd or good at leading people to Christ. But nothing much happens after conversion and people fall away. Discipleship does not happen from the pulpit because it requires getting up close and personal. Todd and I teach that the goal of evangelism is not converts but discipleship. One of the simplest definitions of discipleship is leading people to Christ and teaching them to obey His Word. The most effective way I have seen deep spiritual transformation take place is through one-to-one or small group. Jesus loved the world, helped many and discipled a few. In Master Plan of Evangelism Billy Graham was quoted to say if he had it to do all over again he would have spent the majority of his time investing in 12 men. Recognize that strategy? see previous postings on Discipleship and Spiritual Transformation.
I’ve made it a habit to never assume where a person is in their relationship with Christ even if that person is on staff at a church. Too many times I meet with a church staff person expecting that they are asking for leadership development help and what they ask for is basic discipleship. A few years ago I met with a women’s ministry leadership team at a church and after speaking on How to Develop a Dynamic Women’s Ministry in Your Church 8 of the 9 women present (including 2 pastors wives) asked me if I would disciple them.
If people in your church are not being discipled, they may eventually go to another church seeking more or tragically they may fall into such sin that they spend their lives struggling vs. experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promises us.
I enjoy working with churches who believe discipleship happens from the pulpit . The first thing I do during the evaluation process is give the congregation an anonymous survey to reveal where they are spiritually. The results are usually shocking to the Sr. Pastor. It’s common for a pastor to assume his people are much further along than they actually are. It’s also enlightening for a Sr. Pastor to sometimes see where his pastors and key people are.
19. Does not reproduce and multiply – If a ministry does not reproduce and multiply it will eventually fizzle out. This is a basic life principle but one that many churches have difficulty grasping.
20. Does not develop leaders. The one thing the greatest leaders in the world understand is that developing people is their greatest asset. What ever vision God had called you to, you can’t do it alone. You may see it but you need other leaders to make the dream a reality.
Most leaders have followers around them and believe this is the key to leadership. It is unfortunate that few leaders in the church surround themselves with other leaders. The ones who do are able to accomplish greater things for the glory of God. Todd once consulted with a church that had great potential for growth but the Sr. Pastor did not understan leadership development. A result is that ministries eventually fizzled out and the church began to decrease year after year. Even though the Sr. Pastor was convinced it would never work he agreed to allow Todd to mentor one-to-one with key leaders on a regular basis and also once a month at our home for dinner and leadership development. The pastor was convinced people would not respond and claimed Todd did not understand the culture of the northeast. Todd began to seek out and recruit the top 20%. The response of the people was better than he expected and they were so hungry and grateful. The bottom line is they responded with great enthusiasm the whole time Todd got up close and personal offering leadership development. John Maxwell taught us that those closest to you will determine your level of success. This is the greatest leadership principle I have learned in 25 years of ministry and the one Todd and I are the most passionate about.
Who are you developing as a leader?