Yesterday I posted one of my short stories over on my Jevlir blog. For those who don’t read that blog (its readership is quite low), I wanted to write a couple of notes here.
Many churches think they’ll find the solution to the problem of declining membership or financial problems by hiring just the right staff. But in most churches, the problems are much deeper than who is on the staff. In most declinining churches, I would suggest there is a need to change the church culture. You can’t hire a “Minister of Evangelism” and expect that to make the church grow. A “stewardship consultant” is only going to be able to go as far as the church’s commitment will take it.
The solution to declining membership, in my view, is discipleship. If you can’t get the church to commit to being disciples in all ways, then no number of paid staff is going to solve your problem. In order to change the culture of the church, you may have to lose even more members. Let the folks who don’t want to be disciples and who don’t want to be ministers (every member should be!) move on.
I don’t mean by this to sit in judgment on their discipleship. What I mean is to allow the self selection. If the church determines to be Christ in their community and to take this commitment seriously, then those who don’t want to go along will get annoyed and leave. Too frequently, our response to this is, “Oh no! We’re losing more members!” So we keep the problem alive by sacrificing discipleship to numbers.
I don’t have a problem with church staff when the purpose of that staff is to facilitate the ministry of the members. But in an overwhelming number of cases, the paid staff is expected to do the ministry, and the stewardship problem is to get the members to cough up enough money to pay the staff to do the things that they, the members, should be doing themselves.
The gospel fulfilled in discipleship is the only answer … not more paid staff to replace the ministry of the whole body.
- Our Church is Shrinking (jevlir.com)
- Dashboards, Discernment, and Responsible Leadership (henrysthreads.com)
- Are large growing churches successful? (revdlesley.net)
- Six Key Tasks Of Pastors Who Make A Difference (via Will Mancini) (mgpcpastor.wordpress.com)