This choice on your part has taken me completely by surprise! Another surprise is that it is perhaps the most continually read post I’ve written. I suspect it is because it is often forwarded to church leaders from members or ministers . . . . Let’s pray that this New Year brings a more positive message about Christ’s churches!
!Years ago, I was a church leader in an ill church, and I really didn’t even know it! Certainly I had my concerns about different issues and challenges that we were facing, and I threw my influence as far as it would go to help enliven the church, but never did I think that the church might be in a death spiral!
Now, many years later, I ask myself why I did not recognize the very obvious signs of terminal decline. As I have searched my own soul, the following seem to me to be some of the reasons why church leaders do not even sniff the rottenness that is corrupting the Body!
1. Too inexperienced. Few of our church leaders are trained church leaders. They are usually excellent volunteers, but how many would let an excellent hospital volunteer examine and diagnose you? What if they couldn’t tell a mole from melanoma?
2. Too busy leading the church! The more rapid the decline, the more work there is for those trying to keep it alive! Hard to see imminent danger because of all the people needing your immediate attention.
3. Too optimistic! Optimism–trust in God’s victory—is a highly desirable quality, but look at how difficult it was for Jesus to convince His closest disciples that He was going to die! Facing reality is also highly desirable.
4. Too invested! Your family is in this church; your life-long friends are in this church; you grew up in this church! Unfortunately, none of these investments will save a declining church!
5. Too satisfied. You have a great group! The building is paid for. Sure, you are a little smaller, but it is still alive for you!
6. Too comfortable. It takes a lot of time and energy to change things. It is MUCH easier to just keep on doing what we have always done—and maybe it will work out!
7. Too fearful. You can’t even go to the idea that this church might go away—too much pain involved! Too many unanswerable questions about the unknown future.
8. Too proud. After all, you are one of the leaders and things don’t fail that you are a part of! Not on your watch!
9. Too tradition-bound. We’ve always done things this way and we’ve had rough days in the past, so if we just keep on course and not mess with the formula, we’ll be OK!
10. Too much ownership! Granddaddy was an elder, Dad was an elder, and now I’m an elder. This is my church and my family’s church, and we will never let it fail!
11. Too influenced by others. We’ve talked it over at the elders’ meeting, and the consensus is that we are OK. The members aren’t complaining.
12. Too short-sighted. Even if it were true, what can anyone do about it. Might as well just ride to the end of the road.
13. Too power-oriented. I’m one of the leaders. I can’t imagine not being a leader, so I think I’ll just keep on being a leader!
Rarely is leadership blindness the result of just one of the above Such lists are always an oversimplification of complex bundles of ideas and emotions, but no item on the list above allows church leaders to see clearly the plan of God for the people entrusted into their care.
I’ll end by just challenging church leaders to search their hearts and look for symptoms of reality blindness. It’s not a fatal disease. Leaders can discover their vision and wisdom in time to take responsible action.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt.” James 1:5-6