10 Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing — Chapter 1 — Trying To Do It All

As we begin this review, we start with the first chapter entitled “Trying To Do It All”.   I think the funny thing about this chapter is the inevitable fact that all ministers in churches that are small understand exactly what this means.  Let’s just look at it from the example of the church I work for now.  My title is Associate and Worship.  However, I am in charge of Life Groups, finding teachers for our Teen group, preparing all the slides for our worship service, running and maintaining the website (www.westuchurch.com), working with our families, occasional bulletin editor, in house technical guru, class teacher, and many other things.

Our minister is the same way.  Not only is he the preaching minister, but he’s the office manager, bulletin editor, class teacher, sounding board for disgruntled members, and many more things as well.  When you work with a small church, you have this dilemma because there are much fewer workers in the church.

The author Geoff Surratt makes 4 points about “How to Give Away Your Job in 4 Simple Steps”.  His ideas are:

1.  Connect the Dots –

“Your people want to be part of a big mission.  Simply teaching a class, sweeping a floor, or printing a bulletin is not a big mission.  people will grudgingly do theses types of menial tasks until they can find a way out.  On the other hand, when they can see theses tasks connected to a bigger vision of changing their family, their community, and their world, they will arrange their lives around making sure the work is done.”

2.  Make the Big Ask –

“Don’t expect the right people to come forward on their own accord.  Often the people who step up initially are the least qualified for the task.”

3.  Show Them the Ropes –

“The biggest mistake we make as pastors in this area is that we don’t had off ministry; we abandon ship.  Once we find a willing volunteer, we hand her the teacher’s guide adn the class roster and run like heck before she changes her mind.”

4.  Quit –

“Realize that you are currently doing some tasks that you should pass on to someone else, while you are doing other tasks that nobody should be doing.  Pastors who are overwhelmed by ministry often pastor churches with too much ministry.”

I think the hardest part of this is the idea of asking, because many ministers have the attitude of “If I want it done right I’ll just have to do it myself”.  Even if we do realize that its okay to give up something, we too often do exactly what is step #3.  We rush it, and then the ministry fails completely because the person we’ve handed it over to has no clue what they’re doing, and it dies a slow death.

I like the last part of the quote in the 4th step of quitting is amazing, and hard to swallow.  “Pastors who are overwhelmed by ministry often pastor church with too much ministry.”  With churches that are smaller, we really do overwhelm ourselves with too much.  Maybe, the idea of this chapter could not just be pointed towards the leadership, but towards the whole church.

We have 150 members at our congregation.  We’re lucky to have about 40-60 for class on Sunday mornings.  Out of those, about 20 are involved with Sunday School for children.  We then have a Ladies Class, an Auditorium Class, and usually one other adult class.  For the fall quarter, we tried to add a fourth Sunday School class, and it was met with tough times.  We’re not ready for a fourth adult class, and we have realized it.  We are going back to only three in the Winter quarter.

What things are you doing at your church that you are overwhelmed by?  Quit trying to do things that only a larger church can do.  Make sure you are not overwhelming your staff, your elders, your ministers, or your members.  When we burn out on something, its hard to regain passion for it again.

Chapter 2 to come tomorrow.

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2 comments on “10 Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing — Chapter 1 — Trying To Do It All

  1. I think you’ll also find some of the same sense of being overwhelmed in larger church staffs. I think the nature of ministry is the same no matter what context you’re in. It’s funny…I often find myself serving in ways that I never imagined. But that’s one of the things I enjoy most about my job – no two days are ever the same.

    In my ministry, I’ve learned the value of delegating and asking for help. I’ve also found that when I ask someone to help me out, it’s important for them to have ownership of that particular area. So, rather than “showing them the ropes”, it’s been more like “empowering them to serve,” at least in my experience.

    Thanks for sharing these stimulating thoughts.

    • I suppose I just never thought of this problem at a larger church staff, but when I think about it there’s no reason for it to be that different.

      It is true that no two days are ever the same in ministry.

      And there is great joy in delegating and asking for help. I pray that God gives us all that ability.

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