Churches all 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. Stuckness is no respecter of the “brand” or “flavor” of the church. It happens to all kinds of churches. Lead long enough in a church and it will happen to you. 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.”
Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons, but there are a handful of core behaviors that I see over and over again in churches that get unstuck.
1. They’re outsider focused.
They’re consumed with the idea that the need for the Gospel in their community is greater than their capacity to meet it. And so they’re willing to go to extraordinary measures to bring people far from Jesus close to Him. So much so that their posture is toward those outside of the faith rather than those inside of the faith. They consistently make choices based on who they’re going to reach rather than who they’re going to keep.
2. They have a strong organizational culture.
They are clear about their vision, they know where they’re going. But it’s not just that they have some aspirational idea about where they think God wants them to be one day; they actually have a clear plan to get where they’re going and they methodically work the plan. They’ve done the hard work of defining their leadership culture, and values, and aligning every ministry of the church to move in one singular direction.
3. They develop people.
They don’t pay everyone in the church to do ministry, instead they typically have a pretty lean staff (a ratio of 1:100+) and pay those staff to invest in and develop volunteers. They identify young leaders and give them real responsibility to make real decisions and own the ministry. Actually be the church instead of just coming to church.
4. They view spiritual maturity differently than most.
They don’t view spiritual maturity as something that happens in a classroom. It’s not about content but rather your behavior. In other words, it’s not so much what you know, it’s what you do with what you know. Ironically enough, that’s the same way Jesus defined it. They’ve also mapped out a clear pathway for people to run on. The moment they say yes to following Jesus, there is a series of clear next steps for them to take to move forward with Jesus.
5. They’re courageously humble.
The posture of their leadership is a humble confidence. They’re life-long learners and incessant tinkerers. Willing to learn from anyone from any industry and any size organization. They’re not afraid to ask for help, even from outsiders. They lead in their area of brilliance and submit in areas of weakness. They’re willing to confront the brutal facts and listen to the truth, even when it’s not pretty.
Does your church need help getting unstuck in 2015? The Unstuck Group can help, follow this link to learn how.