living in a van down by the river

Okay, so I admit it. Put me in the camp of, “I’m still bummed that Chris Farley is no longer with us.” He was an incredible artist and comedian, and we’re worse for him not being here. Now, for those of you who are still reading this post and haven’t gone all “Pharisaical” on me, one of my favorite Chris Farley moments was the SNL skit where a suburban dad hires him as a motivational speaker to address the dangers of drugs and other at risk behavior with his children. If you haven’t seen it recently, click here it’s worth the smile:


Now that you’ve got that out of your system and you’ve sent it to all of your friends in the office, let me bluntly say that we’ve got a motivational problem in the church today. Talk to the average churchgoer who claims to be a Christ-Follower and they know what they should do…they just have a hard time doing it. You can bring up, parenting, money, volunteering, or a whole host of spiritual disciplines or issues and the problem is consistent across the board. The problem isn’t an information problem; it’s an obedience problem (some would call that a maturity issue by the way).

While it’s easy to point the finger at people and say it’s their own fault, church leadership has a heavy burden to shoulder in this conversation. And it centers on this issue of motivation. Primarily due to the fact that we’ve done a poor job as church leaders motivating people to put faith into action and follow Jesus due to our own misunderstanding of what it takes to motivate people. Take a look at the 6 basic levels of motivation below. Which ones do you and your church naturally drift towards?

Level 1

Guilt, shame, and fear

Level 2

Duty and responsibility

Level 3


Level 4

Personal benefit

Level 5

Vision and opportunity

Level 6

Relationship, love and identity


I wonder if you and your team have the courage to take the time to evaluate your preaching, messaging, requests for volunteers, event promotion, print pieces, etc. etc. etc. I bet you’ll find that, like the majority of churches, most of your messaging lives in the areas of Level 1-3. What real steps are you going to take to move your motivational tactics from Levels 1-3 to Levels 4-6?

Posted in Leadership, Volunteers

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