I read a gob-smacking article the other day. It was by a pastor of a large church in America and the title was 7 reasons you should invite some people to leave your church. The article in its entirety is here.
I thought that this article was going to be about church discipline.
It was about removing those people who are not ‘getting with the programme’, or supporting your vision and are consistently refusing to sign up for the sycophant roster. Except he used phrases like ‘unaligned’, ‘passionate’ and ‘disengaged’. Those are much better phrases than “people who think for themselves”, “reserved”, and “engaged elsewhere”, or even “act like Bereans”. Anybody who writes like is waving a red flag in front of a bull as far as I am concerned.
The author, a pastor of a large church and author of several books, the latest being “7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow”, made a point of saying initially how he hates it when people unsubscribe from his blog and how he invited people to unsubscribe just to prove a point. Apparently a few people did unsubscribe but in the end the numbers of people subscribing grew. This according to the author is a great prescription for church growth, hence the article. I am not exaggerating. He figures if its good for a personal blog, its good for your church. WOW.
The author of this article, like so many I have seen on the internet has what I call the dot point syndrome. They write articles, preach sermons (if you can call them that) which wouldn’t look out of place in tabloid magazines except they are now on the internet. These types of articles are attention grabbers, click-bait. They are a mile wide and an inch deep and give the impression that the authors are filled with knowledge and wisdom and that they are somehow reducing their knowledge to easily digestible pieces which can be read in ten minutes and spewed out by others whenever they are at a loss for their next Sunday message. They get ‘re-imagined’ and copied and copied again, and really you feel like you are just reading the same article over and over. Here are some of the titles I found on a brief internet search.
7 Questions Your Minister Does Not Want You To Ask
10 Reasons Why People Leave Church
7 Things You Shouldn’t Do When a Church is In Decline
6 Dangerous People Who Could Harm Your Church
5 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Your Pastor
3 Questions You Should Ask Before You Leave Your Church
3 Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church
Let me just briefly comment on these dot points to prove that in fact they are simply all restating the same thing and could have been just one point. In fact the article was a couple of pages in before you actually got to the 7 reasons, so we should give the author kudos for that.
1. Unaligned people cost you something.
In the case of my blog, I pay for my subscribers. It’s not huge dollars, but I was paying for people to be on the list who didn’t want to be on the list. It cost me money.I would rather pay for people who are passionate about leadership and this blog than for people who aren’t.
People who don’t care about your church or organization cost you something too. Energy. Time. Frustration. Malaise. A lack of momentum.People who are not aligned with your mission and vision always cost something.Why pay? Why not make room for more people who are aligned?
The author compares blog subscribers to church members. I am totally awestruck by this outrageous comparison. Apparently, it cost the author to have subscribers he didn’t want. OK, that makes business sense. But how in all honesty can you compare subscribers to your brothers and sisters in Christ? People who ‘care’ about YOUR organisation? Last time I looked it was Christ’s church, not the pastor’s. The author may be the pastor (dear God help the congregation) but they do not have a pastor’s heart. This is a person who should be running a secular organisation because they have all the compassion and concern for others that you would expect from a CEO. In fact, really good CEO’s ARE compassionate and considerate to other human beings in their employ. In fact, they are required to be by law. What law is there that defends the members of this congregation from their clearly fiscally oriented pastor. If I was in this guy’s church I would use this article as proof that he needs to go find a job and leave pastoring to people with that gift. He has a problem with people who make you use up energy and time. WHAT THE??? Whatever happened to doing God’s will, and ministering to those HE wants you to minister to? It cost Jesus his LIFE!!!!
2. Having the right people is better than simply having people.
Having more people is not better than having the right people.As this Inc. article shows, the financial costs of hiring the wrong person can be astounding.
Before you have more people, you need the right people.
The right people are people capable of taking on leadership, who are aligned around a common mission, vision, strategy and values, and who have the character to withstand the tests of leadership.Get these people in place, and amazing things happen
OK, so hiring staff for a church is a serious business, but hey, isn’t that where prayer, discussion with other staff members and discernment come into play? He doesn’t mention boring stuff like that, he is more concerned about the financial costs of hiring the wrong person. And having the character to withstand tests would be an important skill in this church I would imagine. Especially when you are dealing with this kind of leader.
.3. Some people will find a better fit elsewhere
Releasing people doesn’t have to be a sea of nastiness. In fact, if it is, you’re doing it wrong. Think of it this way: If someone isn’t passionate about your organization’s purpose, they will actually be better off somewhere else.
I tell people that all the time. We are not a church for everybody. THE church is for everyone. But your church isn’t. You’re one part of a much bigger body. You alone will not reach your entire city. We need each other as church leaders.
You’ll be serving people by letting them find a better fit, and finding like minded people will help you accomplish your mission more effectively.
Seriously, some people will honestly thrive in a different environment than yours. Why not celebrate that?
Let them go. You don’t own the Kingdom.
I only have one question to ask here…WHY is your church not for everybody? Isn’t a church about the people God wants to be there? Maybe God’s idea of church membership isn’t the same as yours, a puny human being with clearly no pastoring gift let alone any compassion, empathy and social skills.
4. Disengaged people can be disengaged elsewhere.
Here’s the reality. Not everyone is ready to engage.
If you’ve got disengaged people, let them be disengaged elsewhere.
They can not serve, not give and not invite friends at some other church. They don’t have to take up space in yours.
Particularly in a growing church where space is at a premium (as it often is at our church), we can’t really afford long-term people who are not going to engage in the mission.
I have all the time in the world for new people who are taking the time to explore faith. I have less time for ‘mature’ Christians who won’t roll up their sleeves and engage the mission (while we’re at it, we should rethink our definition of maturity).
You are right. Not everybody is ready to engage. It would be nice to get to know you first and then maybe meet your parents, wife, children, other parishioners etc. Then of course you would like to get the proposal. For example just exactly what am I getting engaged with? A pastor or a lifetime commitment? In this case apparently both. And heaven help you if you are not doing your job as well as your co-spouse thinks you should. You are likely to be divorced for costing him money. He clearly marries a lot.
Also, space is at a premium? Where are you fellowshipping? A rabbit hutch? I think this pastor really needs to rethink his definition of what Pastor means. And while we are at it, what does ‘explore faith’ mean? Does he mean the unsaved? So, those not born again apparently get a free pass for not getting involved in ‘the mission’, but everybody else, presumably those who have been there for Some Time, are not given any free passes. For anything. Apparently.
. A few aligned people can change the world.
I used to say we could do more with 300 aligned people than with 3,000 unaligned people. Then one year, in a tough season for us as a church plant, we shrank down to almost 300 adults—far smaller than what we were two years earlier.
We became so focused on our mission and particular strategy—and pursued it in a portable setting without all the trappings of other churches—that many people left.It was a tough tough season.But as I outlined in this post, those who stayed got aligned. Our mission became focused.
Now, a few years later, we’re bigger than at any time in our history, and most of our growth is coming from previously unchurched people. People are passionate about our mission.
When you’re tempted to simply do whatever it takes to keep people, remember that a few aligned people can change the world. Jesus did it with 12.
The main mission of this guy is financial. He wants a big church, he wants people who get with the programme of the boss’s building agenda and he wants to be massive, huge, really really big. WHY? He doesn’t know. He just says the word aligned a lot because it sounds hip, cool and relevant. And, oh…big church..more money. You know. I get rich.
6. Those who stay will feel honored and relieved.
You’ve got great people at your church. You really do.
When you clarify your focus and lead, great people generally follow. I’m assuming here that you have a God-given vision that’s affirmed by some capable and wise people around you. But many people will thank you for cutting through the ambiguity and double-mindedness and leading.
When you cut unaligned people loose, the aligned will always thank you.
So, cutting unaligned people loose…don’t remember that phrase in the Bible. Blessed are aligned, they will receive the appreciation of others who are also aligned. Also, we just don’t need any more ambiguity and double-mindedness because this article is so chock full of direct, specific directions for how to grow your church isn’t it? OK, you think so, name some. Go on…just two. I can think of two. Kick out critics. Keep the sycophants. Big church.
7. You’ll be blown away by how enthusiastic some of your people really are.
Over time, if your vision and direction are solid, you will see enthusiasm grow.People will get passionate about your mission.You will be amazed at how much synergy there is in a group of people moving forward together.
When the voices of the critics go silent (because they leave), you will finally hear the voice of enthusiasm.I realize few people talk about this in the church. And I realize it’s controversial.
But I wonder if just some of it rings true.What are you learning?What keeps you from releasing people?
Over time mind you, you will see enthusiasm grow. I thought we were talking about passion. Maybe its too much to expect that level of sycophancy all at once, first of all, we get people to drink the koolaide, and that requires delicate handling.
A group of people moving forward together….on a parade ground…with a drill sergeant. Yup that would be controversial, especially since this is a church. And a church is a group of believers who have a common faith and are filled with the Spirit of God which is one spirit but many giftings, and moved by the Holy Spirit, not the Boss.
And what is more beautiful than the silence which ensues when there is nobody left…to disagree with you of course.
Lastly, I would have thought that this pastor’s writing should be wholly ringing true if he is speaking the truth. Instead, he rather coyly suggests that only some of it would ring true because this is a controversial topic (you got that right) and that few people talk about this. I can imagine that in this pastor’s church nobody talks about anything controversial because that would involve being a ‘critic’ which is not allowed in his church.
New Emergent Words for the Week:
Passionate: – people who have black belt in martial art of Chu-Ningin (sycophancy and enablement)
Wrong People:-sincere, authentic believers with personal relationship with Jesus
Right People:-servile flatterers
Disengaged:-people whose lord is Jesus not Pastor
Synergy:- Like synchronised swimming but on dry land
Mission:-reason for writing dot point messages and hiring sycophants
Vision:-thing purportedly received from god of choice to reassure sycophants they have made the right choice
Critics:-Disengaged wrong people without mission or vision