Any system needs a fresh set of leaders stepping forward on a regular basis. Too many congregations do not have this. The same leaders have led with the same or similar style, and in the same or similar ways, for too many years. Fresh ideas and approaches have few or no champions.
When a congregation is beyond its first generation of life and is not empowered by vision, a vacuum is created into which a management mindset settles in. These management people have the good of the church at heart, but forget a church is an organism and not an organization.
Because of the significant investment congregations make in their buildings, and the fact that many participants invested their personal financial resources in those buildings, keeping up the museum becomes a high priority for congregations. They become curators rather than creators.
To keep up the museum, and to have the staff congregations believe they need or deserve it, an increasing percentage of budget allocations are spent on buildings and staff. When this gets over 70 percent of the budget, warning signals should go off. When over 80 percent, the crisis is huge.
Long-term, older members confuse Christ and the culture of congregations to the extent that they may believe allowing congregations to change in any radical manner may deny the presence and direction of God. They fear it may even impact their personal eternity in a negative way.
Why Have I Identified These Hidden Factors That Can Affect the Congregation?
The answer is quite simple: These types of hidden factors cause tens of thousands of congregations in North America to fail to transition, change and transform following their first generation of life.
They may have a fruitful, vital and vibrant first generation, but instead of moving forward to an equally exciting second, third, fourth or more generation, they become what I call “One Generation Congregations.” They live on the fumes and memories of the past. They call it heritage and hope that tomorrow will bring a return of the characteristics of the first generation. They may never be captivated by an empowering vision again.
Further, I have identified these hidden factors to get them out in the open for dialogue and to work on clarifying them and building strategies to address them. When congregations can effectively address these and other hidden factors, they may create a readiness to soar with faith in the direction of God’s full kingdom potential for them.
The Columbia Partnership is a nonprofit Christian ministry organization focused on transforming the capacity of the North American church to pursue and sustain Christ-centered ministry. Its current vision is to engage 2,100 congregations in transformation annually by the end of 2017. Travel Free Learning is a sharing knowledge emphasis of TCP. For more information about products and services, check out the website at www.TheColumbiaPartnership.org, send an email to Client.Care@TheColumbiaPartnership.org, or call 803.622.0923.