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5 Dangerous Signs of Complacency in the Church

complacency in the church

One of the benefits of doing a fair amount of traveling and speaking is that you gain a sense of what plagues churches that aren’t experiencing the growth, or ministry effectiveness, they long for. Whether hallway conversations, question and answer sessions, or dialogue with leaders and their teams over a meal, big themes become pretty clear. For example, it’s clear to me that one of the most prevalent afflictions might be termed a church’s culture of complacency. Complacency in the church is a plague.

A complacency in the church has to do with self-satisfaction, a sense of contentment regarding the state of things. And it all starts with complacency in a leader. Now, most leaders would say, “I am anything but complacent!”

I know. That’s the problem with complacency in the church: no one thinks they are complacent.

5 Signs of Complacency in the Church

1. Far too easily satisfied.

When you are complacent, you are easily satisfied with incremental growth and minor achievements. Such things can be heralded as “big wins” and seen as an affirmation of effectiveness, but it rings hollow when they are marginal at best.

If your big win of the year was new carpet in the vestibule, then your big win was … carpet. Sorry, but that’s not much of a kingdom hill.

2. Quick to make excuses.

When you are complacent, you are quick to offer all kinds of reasons about why you are not growing, why you cannot do anything new, why “that” wouldn’t work, why … you get the point.

Challenges are allowed to become obstacles, obstacles are allowed to become barriers and barriers are allowed to become excuses.

It is all too easy to hide out behind such excuses as a reason for your acceptance of the status quo.

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James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a former adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book "After 'I Believe'" is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in the archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.