If you’re in a church that seems to keep on doing well and you just don’t know what to do, you’re not alone. There are a number of people in churches out there who find themselves in your shoes. I must be honest with you, you may not be in the majority here. But there’s still hope.
If you’ve been wondering if there are any simple ways that you can see your church get worse – simple things you can do even in tiny ways to dramatically decelerate your ministry – then allow me to offer some solutions.
1 / Worry more about the trivial rather than the eternal.
This first one here is one of the most tried and true methods the church has ever known. I can’t even take credit for thinking it up first because it dates back to the very beginning of church history. It’s so easy some churches can even find themselves doing it rather on accident.
The key is to get your eyes fixed off Jesus and living to please Him, and off your Christian brother or sister and loving them like that brother or sister, and off the unsaved in hopes that they could find salvation, and instead get your eyes fixed on wonderful things like carpet color, teaching styles, the pastor’s outfit, policy, or popularity – to name just a few.
2 / Love your methodology so much you keep it as long as you can.
Think about it. You wouldn’t have done it that way if it didn’t work… at some point… perhaps… for somebody. And so your way of doing ministry has worked. It has a proven track record. And even if that track record is gaining a little dust it doesn’t mean you need to go crazy like some of those churches who feel the need to adapt to the culture.
Make those people in your community fall in love with your way of doing things! Don’t go trying to see where they’re already at and see how the gospel can meet them there. That’s a lot of work at times for you, isn’t it?! The simple solution is to keep doing what you’ve been doing no matter what the results are.
3 / Care more about your precious programs than those pesky people
It’s been said before, but allow me to say it again: “Ministry would be great if it weren’t for the people!”
However, many folks in ministry have found a loophole that is much easier to focus on, and that often yields amazing results. These things can easily consume a 50-60 hour work week and cause church people to tire themselves down to the bone sacrificing time, energy, and sanity. And they’re not always about those pesky people, either! What are they, you ask? The programs!
Every church has them. But some lose sight of them in the light of the people in their church and outside their church. They even sometimes table great ideas, scrap longstanding ministries, or adapt their entire way of doing things simply because of people. Don’t they know you can get the satisfaction of working hard for people without ever having to work for people!
4 / Try to do the work of saving the world all on your own.
People love to watch heroes do their thing. They single-handedly raise falling bridges, rescue damsels in distress, and smile the whole time they’re doing it. Some seem to have forgotten how great it feels to know you’ve accomplished something heroic all by yourself. Instead, they seek God’s help relentlessly and lean on His power to do the work of ministry rather than their own.
But it takes a lot of time to seek God for what He’s calling your unique church or ministry to do. It takes energy to do things you maybe haven’t seen done before. It takes trust to rely on what God says without concrete proof it’ll work. It takes relationship to even hear from God in the first place. It is much much simpler to maybe go to a conference or two, then figure it out on your own, and get your team to just work work work!
5 / Seek relevancy over renewal.
Many seem to believe that the church is here to encourage and equip believers for living victorious lives in Christ, to mobilize believers for loving the lost, and to show the world a different way of living altogether. That’s great. Sounds like a novel cause.
However, if you want your church to get worse you’ll want to watch out for all that renewal stuff. It gets messy! Instead you can actually find quite a peace and satisfaction in just seeking relevancy. Don’t get this confused with earlier when I warned about adjusting ministry to the people around you. This is so close to that it could almost be confused.
It’s actually about making sure the church looks cool and looks like it fits in well with our world. It’s about even adapting belief (not just the methodology we mentioned earlier) to cater to the immediate desires of the people. It’s where focusing on looks trumps striving for substance, and it works!
If you find yourself in a ministry context where things just keep getting better and you’re not sure how to stop them, I hope these tips helped. For the rest of you who may wish, instead, to grow your church and see it thrive as God intended, I suppose you could probably reverse each of these and that might help!