Welcome to Church Leader Insights. This week we have some great reading that you will enjoy.
It’s easy to get so busy doing ministry that you don’t take the time to evaluate your ministry.
But evaluation is how you get better.
It’s like your annual physical. No one wants to get a check-up, blood work, and maybe a test or two, but that’s how you learn what you need to know.
Then, of course, you need to act on what you learn.
The 4-point plan to get better:
- Ask the right questions.
- Give honest answers in a group process.
- Determine the best-prioritized plan for improvement.
- Take action.
It starts with asking the right questions.
8 good questions that will help your ministry get better:
1) How is the unique culture of your church helping you make progress?
Sam Chand wrote an excellent book titled Breaking Your Church’s Culture Code. He states that more than vision, programs, money, or staff, culture has the greatest impact on your church’s future.
About 20 years ago, a church member was considered active in the church if he or she attended three times a week.
Today, a church member is considered active in the church if he or she attends three times a month.
Something is wrong with this picture. For 2,000 years, the local church, as messy as it is, has been God’s place for believers to gather, worship, minister, and be accountable to one another.
And every time I write something about church membership and attendance, I inevitably hear cries of “legalism” or “the church is not a building” or “the church is a messed up institution.”
But the local church, the messy local church, is what God has used as His primary instrument to make disciples. But commitment is waning among many church members.
1. We are minimizing the importance of the local church.
When we do, we are less likely to attend. A few drops of rain may keep many folks from attending church, but it won’t stop them from sitting three hours in the downpour watching their favorite football team.
2. We worship the idols of activities.
Many members will replace a day in their church with a day at kid’s soccer or softball games or sleeping off the hangover of the previous day’s activities.
3. We take a lot of vacations from church.
I am not anti-vacation. But 20 years or so ago, we would make certain we attended a church where we were taking a vacation. Today, many members take a vacation from church.
As I began ministry decades ago, few people were talking about accountability. More are using that language today, but we still have much room for growth. Here’s why every church leader needs accountability:
1. It’s biblical. It is through iron sharpening iron that we grow (Prov 27:17). We are to challenge each other to live in godliness (Heb. 3:12-13), confronting one another when necessary (Matt. 18:15-17, Luke 17:3). We are to carry one another’s burdens, including provoking each other to good works (Heb. 10:24) and picking each other up when we fall (Gal. 6:1-2).
2. We are all prone to wander. As soon as we think that we’ve “arrived” in our faithfulness to God, we’ve just fallen far back. The problem is that we often don’t recognize this sin in ourselves.
3. We’re in spiritual warfare. The principalities and powers of Ephesians 6:12 particularly aim their arrows at church leaders on the front lines. Satan and his forces find us most vulnerable when we minister alone, with no one genuinely walking beside us and provoking us to good works (Heb. 10:24).
4. Leaders often hide their sin. Because we’re leaders, we don’t typically want others to know what’s going on in the depth of our soul – but that’s where the demons lurk when no one has access to our heart.
5. We commit flagrant sins of omission. Too many church leaders teach a Bible they seldom read, call others to pray like they seldom do, and preach evangelism they never exhibit. We need somebody who asks these hard questions, too.
We often hear that churches need to hire new staff. Or they need a budget for advertising. Or maybe they need to expand or renovate their facilities. But where are they ever going to find the money to make such changes?
But there are a lot of church growth strategies that don’t require bucketloads of money. These are things you can work on as soon as today, despite any budget constraints.
#1 – Adopt a people-first communication approach.
I read a stat that said the average young adult today will take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. That’s a lot of duck faces and Clarendon filters.
The ubiquitous selfie might be a sign of the times, but it’s an example of how people of all ages like to see themselves in photos. A picture of the Grand Canyon will never be as popular as a picture of you at the Grand Canyon.
Too many churches have the camera focused on them — talking about their services, their ministries, and their events. It’s a selfie approach to communication. Instead, flip the camera around and start talking about people.
This is a subtle concept and it can be tough to grasp, so here’s an example. We’ve all seen churches describe themselves as “a friendly church” to invite the community. But here’s the thing.
People aren’t looking for a friendly church. They are looking for friends.
See the difference? The “friendly church” descriptor is about you. And more and more, people don’t really connect with that description. What they are looking for is friends. That’s personal. That makes a difference in their life.