Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seven habits of highly ineffective churches—Post 3.

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.

Habit #3: “Practice the following evangelism strategy: ‘If they want us, they know where to find us.’”

The “E” word makes Presbyterian squirm.

Evangelism implies that there are people who are lost. Evangelism implies that there is only one way for a person to come to a saving knowledge and relationship with God. Evangelism implies that those who have not been “born again” will not be in the Kingdom of God for all eternity.

The “E” word makes Presbyterians squirm.

Evangelism implies that as followers of Christ we will need to leave our comfortable pews (or chairs, in Evergreen’s case) and talk to people about Jesus. Evangelism implies that we have something to say about Jesus and our relationship with him. Evangelism implies that we will have to go out into a “messy” society (we might even hear a cuss word—oh #@x*$#!

The “E” word makes Presbyterians squirm. Evangelism implies that feeding the poor is good, but it is not enough. Evangelism implies that fixing social injustice is good, but it is not good enough. Evangelism implies that building relationships with other faith groups is good, but it is not good enough. Evangelism implies that ecumenical relationships are good, but they are not good enough.

The “E” word makes Presbyterians squirm.

Evangelism implies that we look at our church through the eyes of a visitor. Evangelism implies that we find a way to let people know where our church is located. Evangelism implies that we think about relocating our church if we are in a location that is difficult to find. Evangelism implies that we look at the signs we use to direct people to our church. Evangelism implies that people may not know where our church is located.

The “E” word makes Presbyterians squirm.

Evangelism implies that we look closely at the word “Presbyterian” and realize that unless you are one that you do not know what the word means. Evangelism implies that we think seriously about the name of our church.

The “E” word makes Presbyterians squirm.

Habit #4: “Blame early and often. Maintaining dysfunction in a congregation is made easier if scapegoats are regularly identified.”

An attitude that seems to reside in most churches is, “Failure is not an option.” Most churches do not give “permission” for people to fail; therefore, when a failure occurs we must blame someone. Anyone—except “me!”

Pastor’s are great at assigning blame to other people (I can criticize pastors because I am one). Pastors are in a position of power in the congregation. Many people will take what we say as “gospel truth.” If we blame “someone” for “something” then it must be true.

Habit #5: “Always be prepared to make an account of the excuses that are within you.”

Habit #5 is quite similar to #4. Habit #4 is about deflecting blame to other people; when that fails it is time to quickly shift to Habit #5. Here are some excuses that work well in Western Washington:

  • Winter excuses—
    • I couldn’t do it because of the snow. This is the only place I have lived where the whole world comes to a stand still when there is 0.05” of snow on the ground.
    • The roads were too icy. (see explanation above)
    • A tree was blown down across the road.
    • The power was out.
    • I have seasonal effective disorder.
  • Spring excuses—
    • The glare from the sun was too great.
    • It was raining so hard that it was not safe to drive on the highway.
    • I forgot to set my clock forward for daylight savings time.
  • Summer excuses—
    • I was on vacation.
    • You were on vacation.
    • Everyone was on vacation.
    • The sun was too bright and I couldn’t find my sun glasses.
    • I was at the doctor’s office to make sure that my lily-white skin was not getting skin cancer.
    • The road was closed due to all of the summer time construction.
  • Fall excuses—
    • See spring excuses—except that I forgot to set my clock back for standard time.
    • It was hunting season.
  • Geographic excuses—
    • I thought that there might be another earth quake.
    • I thought that Mt. Rainier might erupt.
    • The tides were too high that day.
    • I couldn’t find a Starbucks with a half-of-a-block.
    • I found the Starbucks but they were closed for three hours for the re-training of their staff.
    • They didn’t have the makings for my extra hot, non-fat, half soy/half milk, grande, white chocolate hazelnut/blackberry mocha with extra foam, chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon, nutmeg and “walking” room.
  • Theological excuses—
    • It was predestined.
    • It was free choice.
    • I thought that the rapture would happen on Thursday morning.
    • I had to spend twenty hours in prayer.
    • My sermon wasn’t done.
    • I had to memorize the Book of Numbers.
    • I was too weak from my twenty-two day fast.
    • I was waiting for there to be no dew on the fleece.
  • Technological excuses—
    • My computer crashed.
    • A hacker wiped out my hard drive.
    • Microsoft is to blame.
    • It wasn’t on Google.
    • The web site was down.
    • I couldn’t find a Wifi hotspot.
    • The battery in my wireless mouse died.
    • The dog ate my flash drive.
    • My LCD monitor broke (this actually happened to my last laptop).
    • My PDA went PDAbsent.
    • My trio became a duo.
    • My blackberry was eaten by a bluebird.
    • I was mugged when a group of thugs jumped me to steal my iPod.

I hope that these excuses are helpful for you. The theological and technological excuses are the best because people will just nod in agreement; after all, no one wants to admit that they don’t understand theology and technology.

Please share with me (and the rest of the readers) any excuses that have been particularly effective for you. And may the farce be with you.


At 1:46 PM , Blogger Red_Cleric said...

Dear Brother,

Since some of my members read your blog I'll not highlight those excuses which are prevalent south of you in the weird city of Portland. Just know that many excuses are the same.


At 2:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's o.k. Alan, you can give us a few. I must have used some (like "We haven't had a meeting, but we will have one soon."). Or maybe it is just the blank expression on my face indicating "was I supposed to do that?"

Rick Strode

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