Archives For Church Leadership

The task of a spiritual leader is to inspire people to see and enter the other life, the life of the spirit. It isn’t that spiritual leaders don’t have to deal with mundane concerns. Even Francis, the most inspirational Pope in recent memory, has spent his share of time revamping the Curia and reeling in renegade bishops.

But spiritual a spiritual leader’s primary task is not directing the affairs of an organization. That’s the work of deacons, useful chaps who are great at setting goals, forming strategies, measuring results—the very things we wrongly label “leadership.”

As the spiritual leader of a congregation, a pastor’s job is quite different. And my greatest mistake as a pastor was to set aside my true work to become the CEO of a nonprofit corporation called the local church.

Here’s how it happened.

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Pastors have a lot on their minds each week. They have a huge task, and there’s much to remember. Heading toward Sunday, a minister may be preoccupied with dozens, even hundreds of concerns.

They think about:

The shreds of biblical language they learned in seminary.
The number of dollars they’re behind on budget for the year.
The number of volunteers needed to make Sunday happen.
The calls they need to return.

But there’s one all pastors forget eventually. And when we do, it tanks our effectiveness harder and faster than missing budget or blowing a board meeting.

I know this because I’ve done it myself.

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Fewer people are attending church these days, and the reason is not what you think.

The Pew Research Center dropped a bombshell yesterday. The center for the study of religion in American life released a new study based on a survey of 35,000 Americans, which finds that Christians have declined sharply as a share of the population while the number of religiously unaffiliated and other faiths have continued to grow.

Though some see good news in the study for Evangelicalism, I strongly disagree. Though historically evangelical denominations may have gained about 2 million members, that gain was purely from “religious switching.” Evangelicals as a percentage of the US population declined by about 1 percent. There is no positive spin on the decline of Christianity in America.

Detail of the church seats with Bibles

The Pew research mirrors other data on the decline of church attendance, so it’s not really news. Still, it begs the question: Why don’t people go to church?

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Consumer behavior among church attendees results from a value-driven approach to ministry based on a corporate model for the church. This mistaken ideology is the central problem in North American Christianity.

Church is now a commodity rather than a community, and members increasingly approach worship with a consumer mind-set. That should be self-evident to any church leader, but it’s easy enough to substantiate.

Value Sphere Definition Meaning Importance Worth And High Value

Consider these actual statements heard from church members and visitors—

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The Hoosier State is at the center of a national controversy because of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Gov. Mike Pence signed into law this week.

In part, the law provides that the government may not substantially burden a person’s right to practice their religion unless it is essential for a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive way of doing so.

cutting the wedding cake, focus on hands

It’s billed as a protection of religious freedom, and as a Hoosier and a pastor, I’m all for that.

But this law isn’t so much about religious freedom as about something that has become a symbol for the latest battle in our culture war—wedding cake.

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Heaven tourism books were pulled from LifeWay Christian Resources this week. The Christian retail giant will no longer carry titles like 90 Minutes in Heaven, Heaven Is for Real, and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.

The D.l.moody Memorial Church In Chicago

The latter book caused a stir when its subject and coauthor, Alex Malarkey, admitted that he lied about having a vision of heaven as a 6-year-old.

So that’s that. Another Evangelical blockbuster bites the dust.

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A clock is something you can take apart, analyze, clean, improve, and put back together. If it works properly, it will produce the same result every time.

A cloud exists all around you, perceptible but intangible, ethereal yet powerful. It produces a different effect on nearly every person nearly every time they encounter it.

Clockwork Background

For decades we’ve treated the church as if it were a clock when it’s really a cloud. The result is a mechanized religion that defines spirituality in terms of voting records and a church that is more commodity than community, a product to be consumed.

How did this happen?

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