Zombies in the Small Church


Have you ever had some great idea, I mean, really felt God was leading you into some focus or direction for the church, but when it came time to communicate it to your congregation they just stared at you like zombies? Or maybe you have coffee with someone in your church because you think they’d be great at heading up some ministry. You lay out the need, explain the commitment and are overjoyed to hear them say, “Well Pastor, if you think I’d be good at it I’ll give it a try.” You skip away congratulating yourself on what an awesome recruiter you are. But then it happens…it might take a couple months, but it happens…they resign or end up needing so much handholding that you regret ever giving them the responsibility in the first place.

With both scenarios chances are your people didn’t have ownership. Ownership is when your people are as sold on and excited about an idea or project as you are. Ownership is important. Remember this rule: No ownership = zombies. And don’t forget, zombies, with very few exceptions, make poor parishioners. There are four steps to building ownership.

Step One: Be open to the fact that not all good ideas will originate with you or be carried out based on your conviction and enthusiasm alone.

Step Two: Be inclusive. Include people in the decision making process. If people feel like they’ve been included it is more likely they will feel they have ownership.

Step Three: Be willing to risk. If you include people in the decision making process you can bet they will come up with ideas you never thought of, many of them good, some of them bad. The temptation with bad ideas is for the pastor to quickly shoot them down. Usually it’s better to let someone try their idea and discover for themselves that it didn’t work than to see you close the door on it before they have a chance to try.

Step Four: Be patient. It takes time to create ownership. Chances are your good idea is something you’ve been kicking around in your mind for some time now. Give your people the same time to think, digest, object, brainstorm, pray. This might mean your implementation will be slower but in the end it will be more solid.

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