Signs that your church is stuck
Every individual and congregation is "stuck" in one or more ways, and for different reasons. Some would rather continue doing what they've always done even if it's no longer working. Some have forgotten who they seek to serve and why that matters. Others avoid reaching out in new ways out of fear of losing those who are already here. Listed below are signs of stuckness that I frequently see the the churches I work with as a coach:
1 | We talk more about the past than the future
- The glory days people often talk about weren't as glorious as most people remember.
- Your stories highlight what what used to happen rather than what’s going to happen.
- If your memories exceed your dreams, it may be time to change.
- Leaders prop up declining programs rather than invest in new initiatives and opportunities.
- Past successes can sabotage future plans when we fail to notice that the activities, approaches and assumptions about ministry are no longer relevant in this day and age.
- Rather than dwelling on the past, thriving churches dream about ways to align their mission with the needs of their community. Leaders prepare for the next season of ministry before the current one expires.
2 | Alot is said but little is done
- Thriving congregations find to move from embracing an idea to acting upon it.
- They have a process of making informed, strategic decisions, testing their ideas, and then implementing them.
- Does your church half a bias for action?
- Is your church structured to move forward, faster?
- What are the road blocks that hold you back and how might you remove them?
3 | Your members don't represent your local community
- Is the average age of your members attenders older than the local population?
- Do your members reflect the increasing diversity found in your local community?
- How often do you have new member/disciple classes?
- How often do you celebrate baptisms?
- How often do you celebrate adult baptisms?
4 | Members don't know or understand your mission
- When I ask elected leaders of a church, most of them are unsure what their primary mission is. It's hard for a church NOT to be stuck.
- If they're confused about why they exist, if they're unsure who they seek to serve, and what they have to offer, it's hard to extend invitations to others.
5 | Your leadership bench is very small
- Thriving churches grow relationships, grow faith and grow generous givers.
- Churches need a plan for identifying potential leaders, developing their leadership capacities, and deploying them into ministry based on their gifts and passions.
6 | Complacency is commonplace
- Have people have become content with the status quo?
- Do leaders tolerate mediocrity or do they have a mindset of ongoing improvement and innovation?
- If your ministries are on autopilot or stuck in neutral, there's a good chance that your church hasn’t done anything exciting in the last several months.
- Make a list of the ministries you've stopped or started in the last 24 months. If your is very short, you've probably become too cozy with complacency.
7 | God isn't the subject of most conversations
- Thriving congregations help people live Jesus-Centered lives. There's a keen awareness that God is active in people's lives and in the world.
- Equip people to align their words and actions with God's dreams for the world.
- Do the people you serve understand that a live of faith involves connecting with God, connecting with each other, and connecting with the needs of the world in their daily lives?
- In what ways is your church helping people talk about Jesus's active presence in their lives?
There are many more signs of being stuck than the seven items listed above. When you sense that your church may stuck, what do you do? I invite you to consider three initial steps:
- Look for and list sign of being stuck.
- Discuss your list with other leaders. Identify your most pressing concern.
- List three or more steps for rooting out the stuckness. Take the first step.
REFLECTIONS | APPLICATIONS
- Which of the 7 indicators is most prevalent in your church?
- Which norms or traditions tend to reinforce a culture of complacency?
- As a leader, what can you say or do this month to become unstuck?
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