Just over four years ago, I published a post on “10 Reflections on a Decade of Church Consulting.” Here’s an updated list that now covers our most recent years of consulting as well.
- If the church is in conflict, leaders often don’t recognize its depth. They may know there’s a problem, but they don’t always know how widespread the concern may be. Sometimes that’s because laypeople simply don’t address the issues with their leaders.
- The Internet has fostered conflict in churches. The sin of pornography is, of course, a problem, but the relationship between the Internet and church conflict is even wider. Members now get more easily stressed with their pastors when they compare them to others they hear on the Internet. Some members have even set up websites to make their case against pastors they don’t like. More on this topic tomorrow . . .
- The growing interest in a church polity of plurality of leaders has both helped and hurt. In many cases, a plurality of leaders has offered wise and needed input. In other cases, new elders who may not yet understand their role have created some of the internal tension.
- Attendance matters to church leaders, but decreasing dollars often lead to a consult. Pastors often allow decreasing attendance numbers to concern them deeply, but churches frequently turn to outsiders when the bills aren’t paid. At least, that’s when some lay leaders begin to verbalize their concerns.
- Many churches see themselves as unhealthier than our team does. This finding has surprised us. When we ask members to rate their church’s health, they’re often more critical than our team is. Sometimes, internal conflict causes members to miss the blessings God is still giving.
- Worship wars have become more like guerilla warfare. That is, the battles are still going on, but they’re not always as open and volatile as they used to be. Disgruntled members still have their say, but behind the scenes.
- Many church members don’t know what evangelism is. When our team asks about a church’s evangelism, we often hear things like, “We take food to the hungry,” “Our church has built buildings overseas,” and “We participate in our annual city festival.” All of these activities are good, but none is evangelism apart from telling the good news.
- Overstaffing is common in hurting churches. That happens because churches that were formerly larger don’t make needed staff adjustments when congregation size and dollars decrease. The result is a smaller church with a larger church staff – and an unhealthy amount of the church’s budget devoted to personnel costs.
What do you think about these findings? Let us hear from you.