Top Posts of 2013 #3: “6 Indicators You’re Leading an Insider Focused Church”

By far the most popular topic I blogged on this year was the tension between being an insider-focused or an outsider-focused church. It’s a tough tension to manage. Do we focus on reaching those outside the faith or helping those inside the faith go “deeper.” Can a church do both? Most churches in America tend to lean towards becoming insider-focused. It’s natural because after all, what comes natural to us, is well us.

How do you know if you’re leading an insider-focused church? Here are 6 indicators that you and your team can use to evaluate your church:

#1 Language

The language you choose to use is important because it both reflects and builds culture at the same time. There are all kinds of ways this goes wrong in churches. Coming up with cool names and brands for ministries that mean nothing to people outside the church, sub-branding things to death, and mentioning people from stage by name without explaining who they are just a couple of them. Two big principles to keep in mind when it comes to the language you choose to use in your church are: clear always trumps cute or cool and you’re always better off just calling things what they are.

#2 High giving-per-head

It may sound counter-intuitive but in growing outsider focused churches I consistently see giving-per-head numbers around $20-$30 per person. In churches that are stuck and insider focused it’s not uncommon to see giving-per-head numbers between $30-$50 per person.

#3 No Way-finding

At one church I visited I had no idea where to take my children. Everyone else seemed to know where to go but us. When we asked for help we were told to go to the “B-Building.” While the person who helped us was polite and came off as genuinely interested in helping us I had no idea what or where the “B-Building” was. Even worse there was no signage directing us to the “B-Building” or anything else for that matter. You’d be amazed how well placed, clear, directional signage and calling things what they are (i.e. Children’s Center, Student Center, Office, Worship Center) can help guests find their way on your campus.

#4 No clear Spiritual Maturity Pathway

Most churches are hoping that people outside of the faith will somehow miraculously jump in on what the church is already doing for existing members of the church. The problem is that just doesn’t happen. Have you clearly defined what you want people to look like who are walking with Jesus and created clear steps for them to get there?

#5 Few Baptisms/Conversions

Insider focused churches have a tendency to criticize growing churches, as if to say “They are doing something wrong and aren’t preaching the Word.” Essentially saying that if they were doing things “right” and “preaching the Word” they wouldn’t be growing.

#6 Poor Guest Services

My first week attending a church that I had recently gone on staff at we showed up trying to discover where to take my children for the Children’s Ministry (are you sensing a theme here?). A Children’s Staff Member shouted and pointed from down the hallway. There was no one to help us get where we needed to go, including that staff member who kept walking the other direction after they had yelled at us. The ironic thing is they had a great children’s ministry. Developing a culture of guest services in your church begins with developing a culture of guest services among your staff.

If none of those ideas resonate with you, here’s something that should push you towards taking a serious look at evaluating the church you’re leading. Don’t forget that you can still be growing and be insider focused; it’s called being the best Christian show in town.

Posted in Leadership

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