Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons. Typically, when growth slows, and things begin to stall the first inclination many church leaders have is to look at external forces acting upon them to figure out why things are moving the wrong direction.
While there are external reasons that churches begin to move the wrong direction, the majority of time it’s much closer to home. Often “stuckness” is self-induced by intention or neglect on the part of the leaders of the church. So in no order, here are some things I’ve seen church leaders do to unknowingly lead their churches towards being stuck.
#1 Keeping Christians Happy
Many churches have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the church is for. Instead of being for people who have not yet said yes to following Jesus, many churches fall into the trap of believing they exist to provide nice safe programming for Christians for the purpose of biblical education. They eventually become insider-focused and begin making decisions based on who they want to keep instead of who they want to reach.
#2 Hiring too Fast
Quick hires are usually hires based on convenience not vision. Every new hire you make either moves you closer to your vision or further away. It either helps you become more of who God wants you to be and further galvanizes your culture or erodes it. Sure, fire quickly. But hire slowly, because you put your culture at stake every time you make a new hire.
#3 Hiring Staff to Do Ministry
When your church has a high staff to attendance ratio and you’re hiring staff to do ministry instead of lead ministry, your church will end up in decline. At the Unstuck Group we encourage churches to staff 1:100 – that is one full-time staff equivalent for every 100 average attenders.
#4 Allergic to Strategy
Strategy answers the question, “How are we going to get there?” Strategy fills the gap between where you are and where you want to be. It’s planning for tomorrow today. Little is more demoralizing to a church staff team than a bunch of empty inspirational talk that never materializes into real courageous action.
#5 Choosing Policies Over People
Policies shrink the box of creativity. They set the standard for how we do what we do every time we do it. Policies tell everybody in the organization what they can’t do, and leaders are solution-oriented not excuse- or problem-oriented. A church with a lot of policies will consistently find it difficult to attract and keep good leaders. It’s very possible to policy your way right into decline.
#6 Defending the Past
When a church is busy defending the past instead of building the future, it is headed for decline. When a church becomes risk-averse and starts making choices based on who they are going to keep as opposed to who they are going to reach, the church is in trouble. The real danger in playing defense is that it becomes a cultural mindset that actually stands in opposition to the Gospel. You see, the Gospel was never meant to be, nor does it need to be, defended; it’s intended to be unleashed.
When the church is growing, it’s exciting! Staff members are hired, ministries are started, buildings are built, and people are meeting Jesus! But it’s not as exciting when all of that growth and fun naturally lead to complexity. Growth naturally leads to complexity and complexity slows everything down.
This article was originally posted here.