Thursday, November 19, 2009


November 18, 2009


Lots of shifting going on these days.
People moving, changing jobs, dropping "unneccesary" stuff, adding "what really matters."
Triming down.
Running scared.
Watching their commitments.
Looking for stuff that will help them manage the pressures and tightness of life AND
dropping stuff that "really isn't helping," but instead is just draining energy and using up time.

It seems that in a lot of places people are more restless...unpredictable....less resilient...less committed.

I think of recent stories of long-time members just disappearing, people who made promises seeming to forget them quickly.

Result? Pastors feeling abandoned and overloaded....too much to do, and too few to do it.

A tough situation
but not a new one.

(Wasn't it Paul who wrote, "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world" - II Timothy 4:10? Or as The Message renders it, "Demas, chasing fads....went off ...and left me here."

So how can we get a hold of some glue that will make the church more cohesive?

Here is a short list of ideas on getting more Glue.

Glue 1: Be clear on the issue of commitment.

If people sense that we are committed without wavering, it will increase their likelihood of being committed as well. Have you told them these times challenge you too?...but you have heard from the Lord to stand firm? Sometimes churches have had such a history of pastoral change and instability that they must say within, "why should I hang tough here?"

Glue 2: Regularly encourage those who are sticking strong.

Everyone is drawn to stability and continuance as they sense that what they are doing really matters. If you are leading them, one of your big responsibilities is to see that they know they matter and are appreciated on a regular basis. (Not just once a year in a formal manner!) Be lavish in your gratefulness to people. All the time. Get creative here too....have fun, and celebrate faithfulness.

Glue 3: As a leader, share your life with those you lead.

Jesus walked hundreds of miles with, foraged with, ministered alongside, struggled with, and risked with his followers. It was life that drew them in, not just words. It was not was life-based. (And He lost a few too.)
They were in on His life and it motivated them greatly. It increased their love for Him and their willingness to die for Him.

Glue 4: Always try to relate even the smallest of tasks to the big picture.

People need to know that cleaning up a room is critical to the larger picture of people being a part of the Family of God, living in an orderly and appealing manner. Even the smallest strokes of the brush are part of the whole picture.

Glue 5: Make sure everyone knows the protocol of coming AND going.

Disengaging is a process just as coming and engaging is. Did they suddenly leave because they had no idea how to do it otherwise - and their discomfort made that an easy choice? (Incidentally, being willing to be open here, will draw most people towards you. It will also build character in them for their business and life relationships.)

Glue 6: When people complete a term of service or big task, be sure to debrief with them and thank them.

Sometimes people lead poorly...and then live with an internal negative backwash and that adds to the desire to leave and escape the whole scene (ie church). Debriefing will help greatly.
Also, don't let leaders just go on and on and on letting people serve...that sometimes precipitates an exit when a sabbatical from leadership would be so much better for everyone.

Glue 7: Make sure Jesus is on board actively with you.

His presence is truly the greatest cohesive plus in any church that would be strong.
Paul put it this way: "Everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible...
everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body." Colossians 1:17ff.

Finally, don't beat yourself up when people leave. That will only take precious energy away that is really needed. I remember counting over 200 who had moved, left, disappeared in just one year when the church was otherwise thriving. (But more than 200 had come - :))

Keep adding the glue....and when that is not enough, don't accept the gloom.

Proverbs 4:18


1 comment:

Galen said...

Those are good-to-know things for leaders. But pardon my lengthy screed, because this hits close to my sore spot: if you're addressing churches out in the American scene, realize that these suggestions are focused in on techniques, valid as they may be. Yet many churches have a far more serious problem. American Evangelical churches are losing their way and leaving members more vulnerable to falling away (from the Universal Body - not just the local Body) than when they began attending. What good are all the best people-techniques in the world when this is the case? Make sure the local church isn't going off the rails, first. Typically these days, churches are offering cotton candy rather than nourishment, particularly during worship. Possibly part of the reason this is done is that the leadership is overly desirous of retaining and gaining membership. But it sets members up for a whopping blind-side when they go out into the mean and nasty world system, which is under the sway of the evil one. They've been conditioned in the very center of religious life to go for the candy, and so that's also naturally what they do in times of trial and testing. They are being set up IN THE CHURCH to fit the profile of the seed which fall in shallow soil and thus have no root or depth and wither as soon as things get tough. Cotton-candy = me-focused: Make me feel good. Nourishment = God-centered: What are the merits of Christ? Worship is to be in spirit and truth. The emphasis is to contemplate in core-consciousness (spirit) the ultimate Truth in a truthful manner (truth). Emotionalistic "worship" is just the opposite; perhaps it is a (superficial) response, after a fickle fashion, to elements of truth, but emotion is at the same time fundamentally unhinged from them and just co-opts it all for a self-gratifying purpose. The emotional component to our psychological make-up is most closely identified with "the flesh." This is what the serpent appealed to in the Garden. It's why little toddlers cry when they don't get their way: they haven't learned to govern their emotions according to the truth as they ought to know it. As adults they begin to govern them, but only in certain social contexts in order to protect image. It's just bad wiring, and we need to give up on it. We are to focus our worship with the question, "What is the truth?" Not, "What can I grab onto here to make me feel better?" It's often about the undercurrent, not superficial appearances. Subtle? Maybe. But isn't that often what it comes down to? "Subtleties" and attitudes? What is it we really have in mind, underneath it all, when we worship?