7 Steps to Church Failure

It only takes a 30-second internet search to find blog after blog listing the top 10 things your church must do to be successful, transform lives, and generally be a wonderful, fantastic place.  The myriad of blogs on the subject are both helpful and informative.  As I read them, I find myself aspiring to be a better leader.

What seems to be missing are the steps to ensure your church’s failure.  You may be asking, “Why would anyone write that blog?” The success of your church is not only about aiming at the right targets, but also about avoiding the pitfalls that can damage your ministry.  Unless we are careful, we may be sending messages about the value of people that are not what we intend.  These unintended messages can do measurable harm to your ministry and keep people from engaging.

Here are seven unintended messages that can close your doors:

  1. If they signed up for the email list, they want to hear from you.  Contact them as often as you want. I’m sure Mr. Davis is interested in the women’s prayer breakfast.
  2. Don’t sweat it if the bathrooms are dirty or the coffee runs out. This isn’t a coffee shop, and no one really means it when they say ‘it was clean enough to eat off the floor’.
  3. So what if your small groups seem like a clique? There is nothing that makes people want to be on the inside of community like feeling excluded!
  4. We need tithes to run this place.  Ask first, get to know them later. And don’t forget to use guilt frequently.
  5. Relationships are messy and hard. Instead of investing in someone’s life, let’s just plug them in to a program — the more programs the better.
  6. If people want to get connected, they will keep trying. The connections cards we printed are expensive and that’s why we call back almost half of the people who fill it out.
  7. We are in need of some volunteers. Who cares if it’s not their gifting or interest?  We have real needs right now!

While no church leader begins with the attitudes above, without the right systems and processes in place, they can begin to creep into your ministry. It only takes one or two of these attitudes to do long-term damage to your ministry.

Here are a few resources that can help prevent these attitudes from creeping into your ministry:

  1. An effective communications strategy can help you connect, engage, and inform your people. Done poorly, it can simply become noise.  Here are a few communications strategies to help cut through the noise.
  2. The first impression a visitor gets is not a worship song or a sermon. It starts in the parking lot and stretches into the atrium as they find their way into services. Creating space that is welcoming and easy to navigate is important.  Here are a few tips on optimizing your space.
  3. Moving people from casual attenders to engaged members doesn’t happen by accident.  It requires a process and an invitation.  Here is how to move people from the observer to participant.
  4. While the financial needs of the church are very real, the act of tithing is a function of discipleship and obedience to Scripture.  Here are a few ways to cultivate generosity.
  5. Transformation happens in the context of community.  The tendency to limiting engagement to being involved in a program can actually interfere with creating healthy community.  Even though relationships are messy, they’re worth the effort.
  6. Your connection card may be the most important piece of paper in your church. Don’t miss out on the value to connect with visitors.
  7. One of the best ways to retain volunteers is to plug them into roles that are a good fit for their gifts. Leading volunteers doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here are seven ways to boost your volunteer engagement.

How are you preventing these attitudes from affecting your Church?

Read more from Steve here.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >


Steve Caton

Steve Caton

Steve Caton is part of the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder. He leverages a unique background in technology, fundraising and church leadership to help local churches decentralize their processes and equip their people to be disciple makers. Steve is a contributing author on a number of websites, including the Vision Room, ChurchTech Today, Innovate for Jesus and the popular Church Community Builder Blog. He also co-wrote the eBook “Getting Disciple Making Right”. While technology is what Steve does on a daily basis, impacting and influencing the local church is what really matters to him……as well as enjoying deep Colorado powder with his wife and two sons!

See more articles by >


What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.