Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight did a post early in April on “10 Observations from Churches Who ‘Get It.'” As a pastor who would like to describe my congregation’s as “getting it,” I’m afraid we don’t always measure up very well. Here are his observations with my commentary
“Each church has a pastor with a vision.” The vision of the church starts with the vision of the pastor. The pastor models attentiveness to God for the congregation. The congregation desires nothing more than connecting with what God is doing.
I like this. I’ve found that the biggest thing that drags me away from this is the large amount of institutional stuff I have to be concerned with. As a 150 year old congregation with a hundred year old sanctuary, our old buildings and church plant require constant maintenance and finances. Our trustees have worked hard over the years and deserve far more credit than I do in making that aspect of what we do go well thus far. I do worry that our need to take care of the buildings has, through sheer necessity (at least our traditional church perceives it as necessity), let maintenance become part of our vision. And this kind of vision, however good it is, will always crowd out the scarier parts – like evangelism. I have to work hard to stay fresh and clear on the vision for the sake of my people.
“Each church hires almost exclusively from within.” I like the sound of this idea. We hire from within our own membership because these people have come to Christ and been discipled and equipped for ministry here. We’ve seen them at work and know they are a fit with our ministry style and vision.
But that’s not the case in most of our old traditional churches. The prevailing vision in most traditional churches is to “do the same thing we’ve always done.” In the effort to transform a church from a status quo church to a missional church that impacts its community and draws people to Christ, this kind of church will often have to hire from without. That is, they will need someone to stir the pot and bring new ideas and new ways of doing things. Of course, they will need to have particular strengths – including the ability to be stubborn in the face of opposition from the old vision. If the pastor has a strong enough vision – and enough toughness – to seek to change the congregational culture, chances are good that at least some hiring will need to be from outside. (But then in small traditional churches there’s not too much hiring to worry about.)
“Speaking of staff, the staff of these churches â€˜get itâ€™ too.” Well, yeah. Staff unity is great. An essential. Too few traditional churches have it – or value it.
“A larger percentage of their staff (or staff wives) are pregnant.” Here we’re seeing that the churches Todd saw that were getting it are predominantly young, newly established churches.
“These churches and pastors donâ€™t have a clue what theyâ€™re doing.” I’m not quite that ignorant, but nearly so. Pray for me to make the final progress to this goal.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But we moderns severely overrate knowledge. What we need more than knowledge (especially knowledge of method) is trust in God and obedience to him.
“Since they donâ€™t have it all figured out, these pastors all shared with me their desire to connect with other leaders who can help mentor them.” It’d be nice to find more pastors in small town traditional churches to connect with and share with and learn from.
“These churches are not shy about sharing resources.” Sounds good to me. Some folks think that since we’re a small church with huge needs (remember those old buildings?), we can’t afford to be generous. I think we need to be generous whether we can afford it or not. If we’re trying to attract people, that is. If I were looking for a church to attend I’d much rather attend a generous church than one known for it’s financial soundness.
“Most all of these pastors are bloggers.” Yep. We like to through our ideas out there.
“These churches are not afraid to make tough calls.” This is my biggest weakness. I’m too nice. Of course, I feel the need to balance “making the tough call” (church speak for”firing people”) with the Christian notion of helping weaker brothers & sisters. But we don’t yet have excellence as one of our core values – or if we do, it’s still way behind niceness.
“Numbers are important to them.” Absolutely. There are an awful lot of numbers in the bible. They count people over and over again. Check the Book of Acts sometimes. It pains me on days like today when the worship attendance is down. It pains me that people aren’t coming to Christ. It pains me that there’s people out there that we’re (I’m) not connecting with. I’m not happy with “good enough” – or “better than many other churches.”