Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Seven habits of highly ineffective churches—Post 2.

Saturday’s edition (March 8) of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (PI for short) carried an article by Anthony B. Robinson titled, “Seven habits of highly ineffective churches.” Robinson’s article is witty, thought provoking and TRUE! I am continuing to use Robinson’s article as the springboard for my blog postings. Be sure to check Anthony Robinson out here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

Habit #2: “Take no risks. A successful practice of risk avoidance is often best achieved by sending any and all new ideas to a minimum of four boards or committees who understand it’s their role to say no to any new ideas”

Risk? Change? Something new? Help!!!

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why is it that committees are so resistant to taking risks and bringing about change?” Early in my ministry I thought that the answer to that question had to do with the ineffectiveness of committees. Through the years I have found that my initial thoughts on the subject were only partly true and that the main reason why committees avoid risk and change has to do with power issues. Power! Power issues in a congregation? Absolutely! Most people who go to committee meetings are long time church members who have vested interests in keeping things just the way they are. Consciously, or sub-consciously (for some churches it may be unconscious J), these long-time church members feel that they are the gate keepers of the congregation.

Pastors can get conditioned to avoid taking risks—especially early in their ministry. I am guilty of avoiding “risks” in many situations—I think of it as risk management. Risk vs. reward. It seems as though I weigh the possible reward (positive outcome) with the risk and the possible ramifications. Fortunately, as I get older I do this less and less.

Evergreen Presbyterian Church is a church where we/I can take risks. To be sure, this makes some of our older folks uncomfortable. The main reason for this uneasiness is change. Think for a moment about the ways in which the world as changed during the lifetime of some of our church folks:

  • Some people grew up without indoor plumbing and now we there are bathrooms with televisions, telephones and the candles are now for ambience instead of light.
  • Some people grew up without a telephone and if you did have a phone it was probably on a party line. Today, young kids have a cell phone so that their parents can keep in constant contact with them. The cell phone takes pictures, movies, is used for text messaging and can hook up to the internet so that they can check the e-mail. People sailing around the world take a satellite phone with them to be used during emergencies.
  • There was life with computers, the internet, satellite television, MRIs, CT scans, etc.

The only thing that has stayed the same for many of these folks is their church experience! It is almost as if they are saying, “Everything else in my life has changed so please don’t change my church!”

I enjoy watching the television show called Numb3ers. This television dram is about using math to help solve crimes. One of the characters on the show has published a book on how to use math to help select a mate. Following his lead, I am going to apply math to churches, risk and change. Here goes:

  • Risk = change.
  • Change = Risk.
  • Lack of risk = status quo.
  • Risk = possibility of failure.
  • Risk = possibility of success.
  • Status quo = comfortableness.
  • Lack of change = death.
  • Lack of risk = death.
  • Status quo = death.
  • Comfortableness = lukewarm = getting vomited out of Christ’s mouth.

You do the math. What do you think?

1 Comments:

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