While working with the Church Revitalization Group in our association, I have found churches paralyzed by myths they continue to live out in the face of an escalating need to change. Make sure none of these five are holding your congregation back.
Church Escape Myth – Church members frightened by the rapid changes in the world cherish their church as a place to escape and feel safe and secure. In this environment, they resist any recognition of what’s going on outside, unless it points to how awful “those people” are and how wonderful it is to hide inside our spiritual cocoon for a few hours each week.
Sky is Falling Myth – Similar to number one, this myth focuses on how bad things are getting and persuades the church to live in paralysis of ministry. We can’t change it, so we must hold on tightly to what we’ve got. Dying churches often keep significant funds, as members somehow believe that maintaining property is all that’s required. We’ve “kept the doors open” while the world around us has gone to Hell. When Jesus returns, I doubt he will be asking for the keys to our facilities and the codes to our bank accounts, but He will want to know what we were doing to save people from those falling skies!
More Meetings Matter Myth – Dying churches often create extra layers of administration as things get worse. This only creates frustration as envisioned leaders find it difficult to make ministry happen through the bureaucratic maze. The church finds itself wasting precious time and energy on minor issues, while the primary mission of the church remains neglected. Most healthy, growing churches release their ministry teams to manage their own budgets and accomplish their mission without endless committee or business meetings.
Entitlement Myth – Long-standing church members begin to feel as if they should be rewarded for their longevity with extra power and privilege. When new members come, they are often sidelined or warned not to buck the power players. These dictate programs, style and organization based on their preferences; choking off fresh ideas that could save the church.
“We Can’t Afford It” Myth – Churches that struggle with finances soon cut off any meaningful use of funds for outreach or ministry. “We can’t afford it” statements are used to snuff out any attempts to function according to the Great Commandment or Great Commission. Current members and facilities must be cared for, so funds are dedicated to “country club Christianity” instead of ministry. As older members pass, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, propagating the myth.
Don’t let the small church myths prevent your church from fulfilling its purpose in these exciting days!