How to Kill Your Church in 5 Easy Steps

3. Try to please everybody. 

Almost without exception, in every church I’ve ever consulted with that is in decline, decisions are never executed without the final question of “who will be upset by this?” Inevitably, good decisions are always sabotaged by someone suggesting that “doing this might really upset … [fill in the name of your preferred group].”

In fact, the one way to ensure that #1 above takes place is to assume this posture, because you can’t make a clear decision about anything if the number one concern is always about someone not being pleased.

Guess what?

There is no significant decision that will ever be made in a church that makes everybody happy!

This means, of course, that if you are trying to please everybody with decision and direction, you will never make a substantive decision, and you will never have clear direction.

Atrophy is the inevitable result, because in the attempt to please everybody, you have displeased God.

4. Refuse to confront troublemakers. 

Principled dissent is one thing. Saboteurs are an entirely different matter and, in too many churches, they are allowed to run free and do what they please, no matter the negative impact they have on the rest of the body.

They may come in the form of the lady who “holds back” her tithe because she doesn’t like a decision that was reached. They may come in the form of the guy who presumes the right to “pull the e-brake” on anything church leaders have decided on that he doesn’t agree with. It may come in the form of those who use the phone or Internet as a corridor for gossip to undermine the forward progress of the church.

Strong leadership is needed in these situations.

The gossip has to be called out and confronted. The self-proclaimed “devil’s advocate” with his hand on the e-brake needs to be told that the church isn’t interested in Satan’s opinion. And the lady who steals from God needs to be reminded that she isn’t just “punishing the leadership,” she is breaking her covenant promise to those in her church family, and to her God.

Without strong leaders to confront such nonsense, troublemakers will be free to throw additional anchors over the side of their drifting ship to ensure that it goes precisely nowhere.

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Joel Rainey
Dr. Joel Rainey is an imperfect, but growing follower of Jesus Christ, husband to Amy, father of three, and Executive Director of the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association. He is on the adjunct faculty of two seminaries, the author of three books, and numerous articles.