This List Needed an Update for 2018. Here It Goes.
About four years ago, I was in a particularly feisty mood and I wrote this article to see how many church people I might offend.
Enough time has passed that it seemed appropriate to offer some new politically incorrect thoughts. I have plenty of them, but I’ll narrow it down to 20, because I like consistency.
Here’s my 2018 list:
1. Churches lack a focused spiritual formation strategy. They hide that fact behind a full calendar.
More programs, events and activities at the church don’t produce spiritual growth and it doesn’t lead to making new disciples. But Christians having fun won’t complain.
2. Opportunities to engage with your church should be on-demand.
At the very least, that should look like engaging online services and next step discipleship opportunities. To expect people to come to the church building for all opportunities to engage is like bookstores expecting customers to come to their store at 11:00 on Sunday morning to buy books rather than shopping on Amazon.
3. Most multisite churches are not really one church.
They are multiple churches connected by one budget meeting in multiple locations.
4. I’d still always hire a children’s ministry pastor before a youth pastor.
The data shows growing churches have a strong kids’ ministry while there’s no correlation that a strong student ministry leads to health and growth.
5. Your contemporary services aren’t contemporary.
They are retreads of services that churches started doing about four decades ago. More on that here. They’re too long. Too slow. And too repetitive. The church needs to regain its creative edge.
6. Trying to convince people to become “members” at your church? You’re fighting a losing battle.
Anyone under the age of 40 has probably never been a member of any organization, and they certainly aren’t looking to “join” a church. Trying to convince people to become “members” at your church? You’re fighting a losing battle. Click To Tweet
7. It doesn’t matter that you are an expository or topical teacher if people are far from God.
Rather than being married to your method of teaching, you should be more concerned with people who aren’t connecting with your teaching and that their next steps towards Jesus are unclear.
8. Multi-ethnic and multi-generational churches are often the most segregated churches I visit.
Diverse people may attend your church, but your church is still segregated if they meet in separate ministry environments with distinct worship styles. Diverse people may attend your church, but your church is still segregated if they meet in separate ministry environments with distinct worship styles. Click To Tweet
9. It would serve many churches well to reduce their staff by 30% and give a generous pay increase to the remaining people.
Again, the data confirms this. Growing churches typically have 30% fewer staff than declining churches
10. God doesn’t save us so we can go to church on Sunday and then go to Heaven when we die.
We need to do a better job equipping God’s people to live out his mission where they live, work and play.
11. There’s no reason for any church, of any size, to have more than one board or committee.
Every other person in “leadership” should be using that leadership gift to engage ministry and carry out God’s mission rather than sitting in meetings
12. People have stopped inviting their friends to church because your services are boring and the teaching is irrelevant to their lives.
Attempting to create an “invite culture” won’t fix that. Evangelism training won’t fix that. Better marketing won’t fix that. When you fix the real problem, people will start inviting their friends again
13. Worship leaders are rarely leaders.
They usually sing well and love worship music, but that doesn’t mean they have leadership gifting. Which means they should lead worship, but they probably shouldn’t lead the creative arts ministry teams and the creative process that drives your series and service planning. Find a leader who can’t sing to do that.
14. We should be designing Sundays for both believers and unbelievers.
That should impact how we worship, how we welcome people and how we teach. And, yes, that’s God’s design… unless you think Paul was a heretic. Read 1 Corinthians 14 as an example.
15. You should avoid multisite or church planting unless you have an effective strategy for developing leaders in your ministry now.
Many churches have failed because they had vision, locations and resources to multiply, but they thought they could hire leaders away from other churches. You should avoid multisite or church planting unless you have an effective strategy for developing leaders in your ministry now. Click To Tweet
16. Churches systematically leave some of their strongest leaders on the sidelines.
Women are still being ignored when it comes to leadership in the church. There’s nothing in the Bible that suggests women can have all the spiritual gifts except leadership. Most women won’t fight you for an opportunity. They’ll just use their gift to lead in the marketplace. And you’ll keep complaining you can’t find enough leaders.
17. People should attend a service and serve a service on Sundays, instead of sitting in a Sunday School classroom.
There are a lot of Christians sitting in classrooms on Sundays who could be using their gifts to reach people for Jesus.
18. Coffee, fog machines and drums don’t make churches “relevant.”
Addressing real issues people are facing and answering real questions they’re asking make churches relevant.
19. Church leaders are getting old.
Pastors should be commended for their long-term tenures at one church. That makes for healthier churches. However, pastors usually don’t retire until the church has started to decline. That’s a problem.
20. You can’t make changes and expect no one will leave your church.
You can’t get unstuck if you don’t change. Make the changes that will help you reach people for Jesus. If people don’t want that type of change, it’s better that they leave.