Thursday, May 30, 2013

Returning a church to biblical sanity

The Church Doctor site offers an excellent perspective on how and why churches get off track and their vitality dribbles away. Read the whole thing, but the heart is his 10-step program:

Ten Ways to Return Church to a Biblical Form of Sanity

  1. Take inventory annually.  Have a rummage sale of programs/activities. Offload 10%-20% per year. 
  2. Clearly articulate your purpose:  look closely at the New Testament. Ask, "According to God, what is the primary purpose of the church?"  Make sure all staff and leadership are on the same page.     
  3. Having defined your purpose, look at everything through the lens of focus.  (1) What contributes to the objectives of purpose?  (2) What supports objectives that contribute to the focus of purpose?  (3) What does not contribute to the objectives of focus?  (4) Which issues of category three need repair, redesign, or strengthening?  (5) Which issues of category three should be discarded?    
  4. Reflect on how intentional you are.  Take inventory, using a trusted and brutally honest accountability partner.  Equip your accountability partner to ask you, regularly, "What have you said 'no' to recently?"   
  5. If you add a program or activity to your church routine, ask the hard question:  "Is this the time to drop another program or activity?"    
  6. Ask your accountability partner to challenge your level of proactivity, as opposed to reactivity.  You can't avoid being reactive all the time in ministry.  Shoot for 80% proactive, 20% reactive.     
  7. Continually run the operation of church through the grid of light-weight/low-maintenance.  Develop a culture of asking, "Is this the simplest way to do this?  Or is it too complicated?  Too cluttered?  Too slow and inefficient?"   
  8. As a leader, what is the one thing you must do every week, no matter what else is going on in the church?  If you answered by describing some ministry you do (prepare a sermon, attend a meeting, teach a class), repent!  If you answered by describing a way you will multiply yourself (equipping and empowering others - as in making disciples), rejoice!    
  9. Review your church government - your decision-making process - through the lens of low-control/high-accountability.  How long, how much effort, does it take to come to conclusions and move to action?    
  10. Consider intervention - an outside consultant - to help redesign your church government to a biblical form of low-control/high-accountability.