Have You Created a Monster?

Fact: Some congregations chew up pastors and spit them out every two to three years. I don’t have a Barna Study or Pew Research Poll to verify that assertion. But I don’t think verification is necessary. We’ve all seen the tragedy of “Monster Churches.”

What leads me to believe it is the church’s fault? Before I get to that, let me admit that it isn’t always the church’s fault. I know many men who are just not effective pastors—no matter their congregational context. (That’s a topic for a future blog post titled “Monster Pastors.”)

Having said that, there are plenty of cases where the church undoubtedly has a problem. That is particularly evident in cases where:

• The problem occurs over and over for a long period of time with a multitude of pastors. In these cases, the only common denominator is the congregation.

• Pastors leave the church to find warm welcome and fruitful, long-term ministry in another congregation. When this happens, the change in church makes all the difference. The pastor remains the same.

• The congregation denies that any problem exists at all. Pride is a powerful deceiver.

Once again, I admit that a church may have experienced all three of these factors and still not be the source of the problems. But that would be the exception, not the rule.

For the rest of us (the ones honest with ourselves), we recognize that these factors point to a Monster Church. If such a congregation does not change course, they will eventually experience more problems such as power struggles, authority issues, financial disagreements, loss of members, a tainted reputation, a diminished effectiveness, lack of conversations, decline of maturity and eventual dismay. Their course will eventually lead to destruction for the congregation and all within its path.

Eventually, all monster churches become either tiny assemblies with big reputations (for all the wrong things) and/or abandoned buildings full of questions about “what went wrong.” That is, unless they change.

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ScottAttebery@churchleaders.com'
After serving in campus ministry at the University of Central Arkansas and coordinating student conferences for the Department of Church Ministries from 2000-2005, Scott pastored Wyatt Baptist Church in El Dorado Arkansas. In 2008, Scott’s wife, Jill, passed away in an automobile accident. He recalls, “God used our Church to be Christ to my family and me during that time.” After seven years of pastoring, Scott was selected as the Executive Director of DiscipleGuide Church Reources, a department of the Baptist Missionary Association of America. Scott’s most important ministry is to his son, Bryce.