My wife and I have visited over a 100 churches in the last 3 years as we develop resources to strengthen the guest services of churches (along with other things). We visited one church recently who clearly are haunted by their past. They can’t move forward for the restricting chains attached to their hands and feet. They reminded me of Marley in a Christmas Carol. They are bound by their existing church model and it is restricting their efforts to fulfill the Great Commission in 2014. They are trapped by their historic traditions!
Their buildings, worship, programming, and posture all echo the binding power of their heritage and in their case it isn’t a good thing. When a church divorces its mission and then marries its model it is well-nigh in trouble. When a church does this it will plateau (and appear healthy and even vibrant for some years) and then begin to see the evidence of decline. Their congregation hasn’t grown for some time. They are aging and the young people are often nowhere to be found. They are worshipping elsewhere or not at all. In time not only is the congregation looking old but so is their property and programs. They end up being haunted by their past as it restricts their ability to make the necessary changes to move forward to reach their community and make disciples.
I visited with another pastor recently who has a group in his congregation who want to keep their church just the way it has always been. Their focus is on preservation not multiplication. They are comfortable and happy with their “setup” and they resist with great vigor anyone who tries to change their church.
I am not recommending change for change’s sake. I am urging church leaders to lead and this means leading change. What worked in the past probably hasn’t worked for some time and it likely won’t work in the future unless the future looks like 1950. When our ministry models are no longer relevant and effective it is past time to replace them with ones that are.
What say ye? Are you haunted by your history? Is your heritage restricting your present and future ministry? Do you feel trapped by your church’s traditions?
Here are some other blog posts to stir your thinking and hopefully help you move your ministry forward for Christ.
Book Resources on Leading Change: