I have just finished reading some material that Bill Easum published from 21st Century Strategies entitled “Eighteen Fatal Church Mistakes to Avoid.” For those of you unfamiliar with Reverend Easum, he is a United Methodist pastor who has been involved in church growth analyses for years now.
I will not bother going through all of the mistakes that he listed but I do want to elaborate on a couple of them. First, he believes that churches make a fatal mistake by undervaluing the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. We have churches filled with conflict and controllers who fight over everything. They hardly embody the commandment to love God and thy neighbor as thyself (Matthew 22:36-40). In addition, we are more concerned with having the church that suits us and our family than with reaching the unchurched. We cannot be bothered with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) if it means that we are inconvenienced or have to change our worship times or, worst of all, we will not know everyone at church. We want people in our church who are just like us even if it means that the crowd continues to dwindle year by year.
Second, Easum argues that we make a fatal mistake when we fail to develop biblical leaders in our churches. Our churches are overrun with troublemakers. Too often we have whole families who hold a church hostage. If you stay in a church long enough, you will witness the amazing spectacle of a troublemaker who will get mad enough to pick up their toys and go home. Then what happens? The people of the church will go after the troublemaker and beg him or her to come back and expect the pastor to do the same!
Easum proposes that we choose leaders based on some combination of biblical traits. Suppose we asked leaders to be tithers, a member or leader of a small group, a leader or member of an accountability group, as well as attend monthly training and devote time to daily devotion and prayer. I believe that we would soon weed out the troublemakers and obtain great leaders for our churches. Of course, it might be objected that no one would be willing to take a leadership position, but maybe we will never know until we make the effort. Certainly other organizations require more of their leaders than does the church and they get it.
I think the point is this: if the church is to go about the most important business in the universe for the most important boss in the universe, then we need to get a little more serious.