5 Self-Inflicted Wounds that Keep Churches Stuck

Churches get stuck for all kinds of reasons. And while no church I’ve ever worked with has ever set out with the goal of being stuck, most eventually become stuck at some point along the way. Unfortunately the majority of churches that are stuck get that way not because of some insurmountable obstacle that is put in place by the enemy, but rather they become stuck due to self-inflicted wounds.  Bad decisions that seem right in the moment, but lead to the church being stuck. Here are a few common self-inflicted wounds I’ve seen happen to churches:

1. Blended Worship Services

In an effort to make everyone happy churches often attempt blend multiple in-congruent worship styles together into one service. The result? Instead of making everyone happy, everyone is frustrated because no one really gets what they want. This has failed over and over again, and yet I still see churches try to do blended services. They simply don’t work.

2. Quick Hires

Quick hires are usually hires based on convenience not mission. Every new hire you make either moves you closer to your mission or further away. It either helps you become more of who God wants you to be and further galvanizes your culture or erodes it. Sure, fire quickly. But hire slowly, because you put your culture at stake every time you make a new hire.

3. Departmentalizing Ministries

Occasionally I’ve been asked this question by a well-meaning church attender, “How much money does the church give to missions?” My reply is always the same, “100%., the whole thing is missions.” They quickly clarify that what they’re really asking, “Is how much money is sent overseas?” I could write a couple of posts on this subject, so I’ll spare you. Suffice to say, those of you who know me, understand how much the nations, not just our neighbors, mean to me. But ultimately that question leads to departmentalization. Churches get stuck when they create a missions department, discipleship department, or worship department etc. The whole thing is evangelism. The whole thing is discipleship. The whole thing is worship. This kind of thinking leads to silos and competing systems…and ultimately being stuck. Like I said…I can get rambling on that one.

4. Keeping Christians Happy

Many churches have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the church is for. Instead of being for people who have not yet said yes to following Jesus, many churches fall into the trap of believing they exist to provide nice safe programing for Christians for the purpose of biblical education. They eventually become insider focused and begin making decisions based on who they want to keep instead of who they want to reach. By the way I’m not sure God’s as interested in the happiness of his people as He is their holiness.

5. Feeding the Past

Ministry programs that experienced success in the past should be celebrated, just not fed. Everything drifts from the future to the past. Ministry that once reached outsiders eventually drifts towards impacting insiders and needs to be reinvented or it will ultimately become obsolete.

 Is your church stuck in one of these or another area? The Unstuck Group, the consulting firm I’m a part of specializes in helping church get unstuck. We’d be happy to help you move from where you are, to where God wants you to be. Let’s talk!

Posted in Leadership

One Response to “5 Self-Inflicted Wounds that Keep Churches Stuck”

  1. Rich February 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    Paul, all good stuff here and straight to the point. Sadly, many churches won’t even begin to recognize these symptoms because they haven’t accepted or recognized that they are stuck in the first place – lot’s of activity but no forward progress.

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