Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Kill Your Church

by Bob Perry

Top Ten Ways to Kill Your Church:
1. Be negative toward any and all change.
2. Freely share every critical judgment and negative thought about the church.
3. Wear your feelings on your sleeve and never forget a perceived slight.
4. Distrust your leaders and question their motives.
5. Withhold your financial and emotional investment in the church when you are unhappy with anything or anyone.
6. Predict the demise of the church so that the church moves from missional motivation to survival mode.
7. Make sure your church keeps doing the things that are not currently working or achieving growth.
8. Ignore the strengths, successes, and accomplishments of the church and highlight its flaws and failures.
9. Listen to and appease the most emotionally and spiritually immature members.
10. Spend your time and energy responding to crises rather than initiating mission and ministry.

These are challenging times for Christian congregations. Many of our churches are struggling mightily with the increasingly unchurched culture in which we live, the aging of our membership base, the difficulty of achieving consensus about change, and other challenges.

But the greater tragedy I see is that some church members seem to take a "my way or the highway" attitude about their involvement in a congregation. It seems that, for some, if they can not have the church remain the same institution they remember from 40 years ago, they would just as soon see it die.

One person probably can't "kill" a church single-handedly, but one member who is determined enough can start a movement within the church that can result in paralyzing progress. That lack of progress and adaptation to a changing context will, over time, make the church more and more irrelevant and undesirable to outsiders.

The actions listed above have all taken place in churches. In fact, many of us have seen all ten of these at one time or another in one church or another. Don't let it happen in your church.

You can contact Bob Perry, Churchnet’s Congregational Health Team Leader, at (888) 420-2426 ext. 706 or at bperry@thechurchnet.org.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tearing Down the Walls

by Brian Kaylor

"Humans ares specialists in building walls," Baptist World Alliance President John Upton noted last week. "We are spectacular at dividing and subdividing and subdividing into more and more little pieces."

Upton offered his assessment in his BWA President's Report at the recent Executive Committee meeting of the BWA. I had the opportunity to represent Churchnet at that meeting on the Communications Advisory Committee, and Churchnet Executive Director Jim Hill represented Churchnet on the Promotion and Development Advisory Committee. The Baptist General Convention of Missouri, of which Church is a ministry, is a full-member body of the BWA.

Upton, who spoke at the 2012 Churchnet Annual Gathering, noted in his report last week that as BWA president he had traveled to visit various Baptist groups around the world. In his travels, he noticed Hadrian’s Wall in England, the Berlin Wall in Germany, the wall Israelis built to separate themselves from the Palestinians, and the U.S.’s wall on our southern border. He also noted that the only human object that astronauts could see from space is the Great Wall of China.

"It is like our signature across the planet - a wall," Upton added wryly.

Yet, Upton's report was not about the need to tear down these physical walls as much as the need to destroy social and relational walls.

"Think of all those walls that may not be so huge to the visible eye but are just as real," he explained. "I mean walls like racial walls, cultural walls, political walls, economic, educational, generational, international, regional, tribal, religious, and, of course, denominational and theological walls."

These many walls are the types of walls the BWA is seeking to tear down. Just meeting together last week helps. As I met on the Communications Advisory Committee, I chatted with six other communicators representing several different Baptist denominations from different countries. As we talked, we learned more about each other and shared our unique perspectives. This process of coming together to talk helps break down barriers. Then at lunch, Baptists from across the world fellowshipped together, helping remove even more divisions. There is something special about eating with others, like it is a form of communion. The BWA also works through various projects and initiatives to further tear down walls that too often divide us. 

It is not good for us to be alone. In Genesis this verdict in the biblical narrative brings about Eve to join Adam. Similarly, we in the body of Christ need one another. We need to tear down the walls. The Churchnet Annual Gathering next month is one effort to accomplish this mission. We will gather together across racial, geographic, denominational, and other lines. We will unite to share hope.

Tearing down walls is actually a holy project. As Upton noted in his report last week, Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:14: "Christ is our peace, he has made us one and he has broken down the dividing wall." May it be so!


You can contact Brian Kaylor, Churchnet Editorial Assistant, at (888) 420-2426 ext. 704 or at bkaylor@thechurchnet.org.

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