7 Reasons Pastors Settle for the Status Quo

Many people have this naïve view that a pastor just has to preach and love people.

Not so. Pastors certainly have to give a priority to preaching and ministry to others, but the pastor’s week is filled with unexpected and multifaceted demands.

Many times pastors need to lead the church in a new endeavor, something that gets the members out of their comfort zone. And sometimes it gets pastors out of their comfort zone.

Relocation. A new ministry. A second campus. New staff and changing staff positions. Purchase of property.

These are but a few examples of leadership challenges some pastors have not seen before. These challenges not only require basic leadership skills, they require leadership skills in often-untested areas.

Change leadership. Financial risk-taking. Breaking of routines. New paradigms.

When pastors face these new challenges, it is not unusual for some to get cold feet. They decide the pain is not worth the potential gain. They get cold feet and settle for the status quo. Why? Here are seven of the most common reasons.

  1. The critics. Major change often engenders major criticisms. Too many leaders will stick with the status quo until their churches are on the path to death. They just want to avoid the critics. Remember, the vote to go to the Promised Land lost 10 to 2. They naysayers yielded to the critics, the whiners, and comfort-seekers.
  2. The energy drainers. These are the people ready to vote no before they hear the motion. They always have a better idea. They want to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. And they will wear the pastors out . . . if the pastors let them.
  3. Lack of knowledge. Pastors are often placed in positions of leadership and relatively large budgets with no preparation. It’s hard to lead a challenging project if you can’t read a financial statement. And while pastors can find more seasoned laypersons to help them, the pastors’ lack of knowledge can be a showstopper.
  4. Prayerlessness. With God all things are possible. But if pastors have gotten too busy for God, they are too busy to lead forward. Frankly, pastors should have cold feet if they have not prayed about their own leadership and the endeavor they are about to lead.
  5. Short-term view. Pastors who don’t plan to hang around long can have cold feet about leading projects that may have a longer view. I have advised many pastors not to move forward on a major endeavor unless they plan to see it through. So cold feet in this case is probably the right temperature.
  6. Inadequate staff and lay leadership. I get this one. I spoke with a pastor this week who expressed concerned about the leadership around him. He was not sure he would have the right team for a major and visionary endeavor. I urged him to look behind his present team and see if God would raise up some other leaders in the church.
  7. Faith-as-idea. It really sounds exciting to take steps of faith . . . until it’s actually time to take those steps. To continue the Promised Land metaphor from point number one, leaders get to the edge of the Promised Land and freeze in their tracks when they see the challenges (see Numbers 13). Any step of faith will have its challenges. The question is: Is your faith bigger than your fears?

We need an army of church leaders who are bold and courageous. We need the spirit of Joshua 1 instead of Numbers 1. I pray for our pastors. I pray they will truly be the courageous people God has called them to be.

We really need to move forward to our Promised Land.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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Kill Status Quo: How to Ask Better Questions

Hulu, iPhone, and Prius didn’t come to market because their creators asked status quo questions. They didn’t happen because somebody began a meeting with “Who has an idea for improving the industry?” or “How are we going to increase sales?” Those innovations exist because disruptive, transformative, even uncomfortable questions without easy answers were asked.

Through years of working with the world’s leading companies, I’ve witnessed a direct relationship between provocative inquiry and innovation. Teams that ask the hard questions prevent early conclusions: the simple act of inquiry provokes new thinking and has the power to challenge long-held assumptions that create real change.

So what do disruptive questions look and sound like? They usually begin with “how,” “which,” “why” or “if” and are specific without limiting imagination. They focus on generating solutions rather than begging long-winded explanations and place blame, as often-asked ‘close-ended’ questions always do. They awaken the mind rather than put it to sleep. To illustrate, a provocative version of “Who has an idea for improving our product/service?” would be “If we hosted a forum called ‘How Our Products & Services Suck,’ what topics would be on the main stage?” An equally effective version is “Which two things could our competitors do to render our product/services irrelevant?”

I witnessed this approach in action during an annual strategic planning meeting for a global pharmaceutical corporation. A few of the company’s major drugs were going off-patent, and every part of the organization was under pressure to innovate. When the corporate strategy team was invited to join the product team’s brainstorm session, they brought some unexpected questions to the table:

• What are the unshakable industry beliefs about what customers want? What if the opposite was true?
• If you were CEO for one day, which three things would you change to enable growth of our brands?
• How can we make our product- and service-chain more responsive to demand fluctuations?

No one from the product division answered immediately. People were visibly uncomfortable, but slightly excited. Yet by day’s end, this planning session became one of their most productive. Where previous annual planning meetings yielded 20 to 30 good ideas, this one resulted in over 100. When teams are encouraged—or forced—to question assumptions, their ideas often exceed expectation in number and creativity.

While it’s not unusual for the product and strategy teams to collaborate, consider querying less conventional audiences. Prospective hires, vendors, former customers, and ex-employees can provide unique and valuable perspectives on your organization. Without the constraints of groupthink and politesse, provocative inquiry can pave a short path toward innovation.

When posing disruptive questions to employees, some leaders prefer to start a meeting immediately with one to set the tone, while others hold back until a brainstorm sputters and stalls. Milder approaches include emailing questions to participants in advance of a meeting or creating an online questionnaire where anonymity is assured. And among the hundreds of provocative questions I’ve heard, the following queries have been known to suck the status quo out of any room:

1. If you could only work on one project for a year to transform the business, what would it be and why?

2. What is the shortest path to the customer? How could we get there in 6 months?

3. What suffers more breakdowns: our products, our processes, or our people? How could we fix this?

4. It’s 2025 and we’re the best company to work for in the world: What two things did we do to earn this award?

5. Which parts of your job would you like to kill or eliminate?

6. What would our dream testimonial from a customer say?

7. What can we offer for free that no one else does?

8. You’ve just written a tell-all book about this company: Which secrets does it reveal?

9. How can our services be turned into physical products? How can our products be turned into a service?

10. If we could hire five more people, what unconventional skills would they have and why?
This type of questioning possesses the power to transform brands and entire industries. When you apply provocative inquiry to every corner of your business, there will be a collective ripple of unease.

Embrace it: this is how status-quo busting happens, and what an innovation opportunity looks and sounds like.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Bodell

Lisa Bodell is the author of Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution (Bibliomotion). As founder and CEO of futurethink, an internationally recognized innovation research and training firm, Bodell believes that everyone has the power to innovate; they just need to know how. As a leading innovator and trainer, she has devised training programs for companies such as 3M, GE, and Johnson & Johnson. Learn more and keep up with her online at www.KillTheCompany.com.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.