A popular book a few years back was titled, The
10 Dumbest Mistakes Smart People Make and How to Avoid Them.
Let me offer a church version of that book by suggesting The
7 Dumbest Mistakes Smart Churches Make.
Mistake # 1: WE START NEW THINGS WITHOUT ELIMINATING
OLD THINGS. A few years back in our church, I discussed
with a group of our leaders the future direction of the church.
All agreed that with changing times, we must adopt changing methods.
We discussed a number of new things we needed to do. All agreed
that in order to do these new things some old things would have
to be eliminated. However, when I suggested some things that might
need to be eliminated— Sunday evening services, Wednesday
night services, etc.— they opposed each suggestion. Churches
have a difficult time shooting their sacred cows.
Mistake # 2: WE ENLIST PEOPLE WITHOUT ANY REGARD TO THEIR
SPIRITUAL GIFTS. When a staff member is trying to fill
out the slate of teachers or when the Committee on Committees
is trying to complete their committee assignments, we usually
see the primary task to be filling the positions rather than aligning
the gifts of the people with the gifts demanded for the job. The
Mistake # 3: WE DEFEND OUR OWN TURF INSTEAD OF PROMOTING
THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM. It’s easy to see how this
happens. Someone gets involved in a particular ministry and they
develop a real love for this ministry. They have a passion for
it. It is only a small step from “a passion for this ministry”
to “this ministry is the most important ministry in the
church.” And if we have invested in that ministry, we are
hesitant to let it go, even though it is no longer effective.
Mistake # 4: WE OPERATE ON THE BASIS OF MINORITY RULE.
The Bible warns us against being a stumbling block to weaker believers.
This valid biblical admonition has been twisted into an unhealthy
methodology in the church. We allow a few dissenters to kill good
ideas for change. This practice immobilizes many churches because
there are almost always a few who resist any suggested change.
Mistake # 5: WE LIVE IN THE PAST. Gratitude
for the past should permeate the life of a church. However, “being
thankful for” is not the same as “being tied to.”
Instead of duplicating the actions of the past we need instead
to duplicate the spirit of the past. Our past leaders did what
was necessary to meet the challenges of their day in methodologies
which were effective in their day. We should be willing to do
the same in our day.
Mistake # 6: WE MAKE RULES AND REGULATIONS PRIMARY INSTEAD
OF PEOPLE. Following the rules for the care of the buildings
becomes more important than the people who are served through
the buildings. Keeping the proper age groups in a class become
more important than ministering to people through the class. These
are two examples of ways in which we confuse the primary focus
of the church on kingdom work.
Mistake # 7: WE DEMAND LEADERSHIP BUT RESIST IT AT THE
SAME TIME. I have sensed some resistance over the years
to my aggressive leadership style. Pulpit committees have said,
“We need you to give leadership to the church.” Then,
some are disturbed when I do. And I have noticed the same reaction
at times to lay leaders who give strong leadership. It’s
like the husband who had not kissed his wife in ten years but
then shot someone who did!
So how do we avoid these mistakes? Email your responses to me