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5 Ways Analysis Paralysis Might Be Killing Your Church

Permission seeking

Too many church leaders are waiting for someone else to grant them permission to take action on a new idea or strategy. Some churches have a multiplicity of people whose role seems to be saying “no” rather than saying “yes.” If your organizational structure is designed in a way that stifles innovation and stamps out progress, then don’t be surprised when you don’t make any forward movement.

If you’re looking for permission to try something new, this is it. As a leader, you need to have an internal locus of control and recognize that some new ideas may not work. In fact, failure is a part of leadership. By definition, leaders move people from where they are to a new place and that means uncharted territory. The things we try aren’t always going to work, but if you’re looking for someone to give you permission for something new, you probably won’t get it.

Leaders who are willing to take risks on today’s hunches seize the future. These leaders are OK with living with the results, whether they are positive or negative, because even a negative response is data that can be incorporated into helping the church achieve a broader reach. What can you try today that you’ve been thinking about for a long time? You don’t need permission. Just move forward.


Fear is an interesting companion of leadership. For most of my leadership career, I have spent time worrying about what’s going to happen next. To be honest, the line between fear and faith in my life is quite small. Pastor Tim Lucas once said that faith is spelled “R-I-S-K.” Leaders are called to take risks and to do new things. If we get wrapped up in our own fear, we won’t take new ground and we won’t reach the people that God is hoping we’ll impact.

Fear is worrying that what hasn’t happened will happen; faith is knowing that what hasn’t happened will happen. Until our churches embrace the fear that we have and become comfortable with the idea of failure by living in faith, we simply won’t make the impact we hope for.

Silicon Valley is downright obsessed with the idea of failure as an element of the leadership process. If a young leader hasn’t failed at least two or three times, it’s unlikely that they’ll be looked at favorably in Silicon Valley. Mottos like “Fail fast, fail often” or “Move fast and break stuff” are lauded in that culture in order to move the entire industry forward. Leaders there are looking for folks who have made a difference, who have made mistakes, and who have gotten up and moved on after those failures.

God wants to do something amazing in your church. Don’t let your fear of what may or may not happen hold you or your community back. What is a way that you could take a step in a new direction to see something amazing happen?

A few years ago, I released a book called Unreasonable Churches. In this book, I shared 10 different stories of churches who tried some unreasonable things. They did things that I don’t think your church should necessarily repeat, but my hope in writing that book was that it would move people to try something new. What is it that you believe that God is calling you to do? Chances are you have all the information you need in order to take action.

Take a risk. Take action. Do something that might not work because you never know, it could be the next thing that will allow your church to reach hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of new people.

Thank you for serving in your local church. I would love to hear more about how you’re taking risks in your community.

This article about analysis paralysis originally appeared here.