Your church is perfectly designed to get the results it’s currently getting. If you want something different you’ll probably need to do something different. Albert Einstein is reported to have said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I’m sorry to say this but there are a lot of insane small churches out there…and, to be fair, there are a lot of insane larger churches out there. There are a lot of insane small church pastors and insane large church pastors. There are a lot of insane small church pastor boards/leaders and there are a lot of insane church boards/leaders of larger churches. There’s a lot of insanity happening out there in our churches.
There are three type of churches: those that are growing, those that have plateaued, and those in decline. Regardless of what we’ve been told, there are no simple answers for why one church grows over another. There are no simple answers for why a church has plateaued. There are no simple answers for why a church is experiencing decline. Anyone who offers simplistic answers to these dynamics is being…well, simplistic, maybe even naive.
Just because a church is growing is no guarantee that the church is healthy. Just because a church has plateaued is no guarantee that the church is unhealthy. Sometimes (not very often but sometimes) a church can be in decline and be healthy.
Again, your church is perfectly designed to get the results it’s currently getting. If you want something different you’ll probably need to do something different.
If your church is growing you might be pleased with your results but if your church has plateaued or is in decline you might not be pleased. If you want something different you’ll probably need to do something different and the change needed to turn things around might be significant. And herein lies the greatest challenge we face when trying to move our congregations in a new or different direction…people don’t want to change. People want to keep doing what they’ve always done. People might be interested in change as long as you’re not asking them to change something that is important to them.
This morning I was reflecting upon Luke chapter 5 when verse 39 stood out to me.
“And no one after drinking the old wine wants the new for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
It is so common for pastors, or congregants, or church boards to want their church to grow but are reluctant to embrace the significant change that is often required to bring about said change. Doing the same things but expecting different outcomes is insanity.
If you pastor a church that has been plateued for the past three years (and this bothers you, it might not bother you and that might be ok) or has been in decline for the past three years I suggest the following steps:
1. Form a team of ‘prayers’ who see what you see and feel what you feel and begin to pray for guidance from God as to what you should or could do.
2. Begin the process of reeducating your church in regards to the dynamics of change. Don’t begin by listing all the areas that need to change, this will probably scare many of your people away. Start with your board or key leaders. Teach on the topic of change. Once you feel that your most influential people are on board then, begin to reeducate your congregation about the importance of embracing change.
3. Be patient. Selling ‘change’ takes time. Never underestimate how much ‘change’ freaks people out. Take things slowly.
4. Form a team of spiritually mature good thinkers who will partner with you to prayerfully identify the significant areas that will need to change in order for your church to turn and go in a new direction.
5. Prayerfully prioritize your list, begin at the top and work your way down.
If you’d like a free, no obligation one hour phone consult to learn how I might be able to help you with this process email me and we can set something up.
My new book: ‘Mile Wide, Inch Deep: Experiencing God Beyond the Shallows, Soul Care For Busy Pators, and the Rest of Us’ can be ordered here.