Monday, October 31, 2016

Dining on sacred cows

There's a line in a song that says, "Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die." Similar to that line is one that says most churches claim they want to grow, but no one wants to make the changes necessary to grow.

A few years ago I was working with a church as they were seeking a new pastor. In my first meeting with the search committee I asked what they wanted in their next pastor. I got the usual answer: We want a pastor who will grow our church.

Although I had never done this before, I asked the committee chair if she was sure about that. I said, "You do realize that if you could grow by doing what you've been doing, you would already be growing. What you are telling me is that you want a pastor who will come in here and change everything you are doing. Is that what you really want?"

She looked at me and the others on the committee, smiled, and responded, "Well, maybe we better talk about that a little more."

Many churches have a number of sacred cows that cannot be touched. It may be the time  of their worship services. Just because a church has always met for worship at a particular time doesn't mean that time cannot be changed if a different time might be better for the people you want to reach. I know one new church that began by starting their worship service at 2:00.

Another sacred cow is the style of worship or the music. It seems we've been fighting these worship wars forever. The reality is that much of what traditional churches have done in worship does not appeal to younger people, the very ones churches claim they want to reach.

Another sacred cow is often how the church is structured. Too many churches are over-structured for their current size. When a church is structured for maintenance it cannot expect much ministry to occur, and without effective ministry a church will not grow. Remember, your church is perfectly structured for the results it is getting.

Some sacred cows have been members of the church for generations. Nothing happens in these churches unless the controllers approve, and they will not approve anything that might threaten their position or power in the church. One of the things they find most threatening is growth because growth means new people, and new people are seen as a threat to their standing in the congregation.

There are many other sacred cows that exist in various churches, but they all have one thing in common. They hinder a church's ability to grow. These sacred cows need to be removed and changes made that will facilitate new ministries and new growth.

What sacred cows exist in your church? What will you need to do to remove them?

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