You’ve probably heard me say before that “stuckness” is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of a church. All kinds of churches across America are stuck. Large churches, small churches, old churches, new churches, Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Nazarene churches, Presbyterian churches and even non-denominational churches are stuck. In fact Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, has stated in his research that:
“Eight out of 10 of the approximately 400,000 churches in the United States are declining or have plateaued.”
That’s 80 percent, if you’re doing the math. In my work consulting with churches and coaching church leaders, there are five common questions or values that I see come up over and over again in churches that are stuck, but sometimes don’t know it yet. Could this be your church?
1. How do we make change and keep people from leaving the church?
The simple answer is, you don’t. The good news is people are always going to leave your church. You get to choose who leaves by the decisions you make and the way you lead. Churches who are making decisions based on who they are going to keep instead of who they are going to reach are stuck.
2. How do we get more people in our discipleship class?
If your primary method of discipleship is a class, your church may be educating people but they’re not building disciples. Christian education is not the same thing as disciple making. If you don’t have a clear pathway for people who say yes to Jesus to move toward knowing Him and following Him then your church is moving toward being stuck.
3. How can we hire more staff to run more ministries?
When your church is hiring people to do ministry instead of leading people to do ministry, your church is stuck. Churches that are rapidly moving toward providing more “ministry services” for more people to attend and participate in, instead of investing those same resources into developing volunteers, are often stuck and don’t know it yet. Ministry participation is not the same thing as people development.
4. How can we protect our kids and students from the world?
Churches that adopt a protection-oriented mindset instead of a preparation-oriented mindset often end up stuck because that thinking permeates the entire culture of the church. These churches are often risk-averse and talk about defending the Gospel. The Gospel doesn’t need to be defended from outsiders, it needs to be unleashed. These churches often choose to curse the darkness instead of proclaiming the light.
5. How can we continue to increase our missions giving?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for missions. But when a church begins to take pride in supporting a long list of missionaries across an ocean instead of doing anything short of sin to reach people in their neighborhood with the Gospel they are stuck.
Need help getting your church unstuck? The Strategic Operating Process that we lead churches through at the Unstuck Group will help your church clarify your mission, vision and core strategies—and then realize it through prioritized action initiatives.