March 4, 2013 in Featured
The NEXT FREE CONSULTING TIP:
Is your church focused on pointing people to Christ, or pointing people to a deeper relationship in Christ? Maybe your church does both well. Great. You’re a member of the extreme minority. Many established churches are losing members in record numbers. Here’s what All Praise Ministries believes is causing this trend:
Serving the members of the church over serving the lost in the community
When a church starts considering the needs of its members over the needs of the lost, it becomes complicit to the will of The Devil and the church WILL begin to shrink and sink. A church that caters to it’s membership and the saved is not a church. It is, at best, a seminary that teaches the saved how to remain so. The church God wants us to “run” on Earth – the churches that will grow and thrive in the work of The Lord, will care for the lost, first and foremost. It will sacrifice tradition for new and effective ways to operate in today’s communities.
In our dealings with churches all over the world, we find churches that lose more members than they gain each year. Most of these shrinking churches are holding on to something like pride, control, status, money, people, tradition or status quo. In most cases, the same pastoral staff that got them into this current mess is the same staff trying to lead them out of it. Of course, that won’t work in most cases. So, what’s the answer for these diminishing churches?
Yes, you read correctly. Give up. Here are 4 of the top 10 things we’ve discovered are driving churches into financial and spiritual bankruptcy-type situations. And it’s time to give them up:
1. Pride. Someone CAN and WILL do it better. And chances are it will be differently than your preferred method. Hire someone to lead you to the next level and then trust them to accomplish what you hired them to do. There are many consultancies, like All Praise Ministries, that can help you find your way back to growth. But you have to be willing to let go of your Pride and admit you need help.
2. Control. If you’re a lead pastor reading this, it’s time to clearly identify and state your area of core competency to your leaders and hand over the reigns to everything else to them. Worship Leaders plan worship services. Youth pastors run the youth department. Finance Managers handle how and when to spend the money; every person has a skill set. Allow them to use it while you use yours. Listen to them. Trust them to make decisions FOR YOU! Are you a gifted communicator? (I hope so.) Then preach and teach. Let go of everything else.
3. Traditions. Here’s a test. Do you know how many people in your congregation today gave their heart to Christ in the last 12 months? Through baptism or membership roles, do you know the number? If that number is less than 10% of your weekly attendance, chances are you are focused too heavily on your traditions. One church in 2011, with a weekly attendance of about 1200 spent a budget of 4.6 million and had a total of 15 baptisms. In contrast, a member of our All Praise team went on a mission trip for $3500 and led over 120 people to Christ. But to do so, he had to get out of the four walls of the church. Pastors, it’s time to get OUT of your comfort zones. Can the money being spent on Wednesday night chicken dinners and Senior nights at the nursing home, be better used by sending a street team out into your community with door hanger invitations and the message of Christ? We think so.
4. People. Sometimes, you just have to cut the chaff. This certainly applies to the people on staff who are not helping move the needle upward, but it also applies to members – givers & contributors – who’ve supported you through the ups and downs. Often, the problem is too many givers are supporting the down times. All Praise believes that if most givers would stop giving when they see the church moving backwards in the number of saved, most pastors would be quicker in making changes to how they serve the lost. Instead, the opposite is typically the case. The pastor of the failing church looks for ways to turn the ship without losing the contribution of those “kind enough” to fund the sinking ship. So more focus goes internally to the programs and care functions than into outreach. It’s a vicious circle that only spins out of control, eventually leading to each member on staff operating in drowning mode….taking everyone and everything around them down with the ship.
To learn more about how to right the ship, and to see the other 6 tips, send us a note or call us. We’ll help you come up with a plan….the question is, will you GIVE UP and work the plan?