The Church is a long way from being the Church that Jesus intends it to be. As someone who works for a church, it is my hope that the ministry I lead is effectively reaching those in the seats and even those who are yet to sit in those seats. Admittedly as a young leader I have a lot of fears and one of them I think is a common blind-spot for those in leadership positions. You see while I am a pretty confrontational guy (just ask Tyler) I’ve found that most people aren’t, and when they disagree with you or as in this context; dislike something you are doing in ministry they simply leave. Unfortunately people who do this rob leaders of the opportunity to change anything.
Our culture is very much a throw-away culture. Most prefer a Starbucks cup to a mug…once we see a commercial for a new phone it’s time to toss the old one out. If your wife puts on some weight and nags a little too much, you just trade her in for a new one. This “throw-away” culture has crept into the church as well and we even have a term for it; “church hopping.”
A lot of people hop from church to church looking for that perfect one that meets all of their “needs.” The church has got to have modern worship, strong biblical teaching, clean carpet, engaging youth programs for the kids, the right temperature to wear our favorite shirt, and can’t ask too much of us. Most attend a church just long enough to bump into some relational drama, to find those politics or personalities they disagree with lurking just below the surface and quickly move on to the next church.
What if there was a pathway to allow for greater feedback with the hopes that people could actually be part of a church community for the long haul? This is what I see Jim Henderson & Matt Casper doing over at churchrater.com. I especially like their idea of getting true outsider opinions by sending people from their organization to rate churches that invite them in. Churches like a lot of organizations are often controlled by a small group of people who hold all of the power (usually the ones who have the $) and are not willing to let go of their own agendas/opinions on what’s best for the church.
If you haven’t already I encourage you to check out some of the ratings and the conversations being had in the comment sections on churchrater.com. Jim and Matt both have great things to say and I think these churches could really learn a lot from what is being said.
The old management adage comes to mind; “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” This is where I see a lot of churches failing today. They don’t have any measurable goals that they are trying to reach. We make excuse after excuse about how the church is not a business, we shouldn’t create consumer Christians…I’ve heard ’em all.
Semantics aside, there’s no excuse for churches not having goals and a clear strategy. What is wrong with someone commenting that your church came across “unfriendly” when they attended and making some goals to become more friendly as a congregation? While I am definitely not saying a church measures her success by ratings on a website I do think those leading our churches should have an idea of what success looks like.
Now I want to say I am not into churchHATERS.com. What I mean by that is I don’t support anonymous people posting negative comments; those are just lame passive-aggressive attempts to speak up without a relationship. If you cannot post your comment without a name and email attached to it to allow the church to reply then you simply shouldn’t post.
In the end I’m all for the Church being more effective at reaching people. And in today’s day and age without an open conversation with those who are attending your church that just isn’t going to happen. Our country has a lot of churches, most of which are dead or dying. I think few churches have to worry about hearing too much feedback and attempting to change too much to get people to stick around …most would do well to get a rating or two.
What does it look like for the shepherd to leave the 99 to go after the one lost sheep in 2010?