Right now, you may think you’ve got a huge church problem. You probably do…but it may not be the problem you think you have. We humans are notorious for thinking, “If they would only…” or “If I could stop…” Sometimes, what we fill in that blank with is the problem. Often it isn’t.
In the church world, the problem is invariably leadership. Is your church stagnant or in constant tumult? It’s a leadership problem. Does the church need to change? That’s a leadership problem. Most, if not all church problems are leadership problems, which is why we ought to focus on the change of heart, mind, or system of leadership rather than the specific change itself. For, until that change happens, tinkering with what is may lead to worse conclusions than the status quo.
If you find yourself saying, “we’ve tried for years and they won’t change,” realize you probably can’t do anything about it. So, ask yourself if you can settle for what is, whether you need to change personally, or whether you need to graciously go somewhere else. That last one is a last resort–for when the environment is truly spiritually toxic or leadership is sinning and will not repent–that sort of thing.
HOW WE CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROBLEM
Sometimes, we contribute to the leadership problem from the pew or the preacher’s office by assuming only they can change, and our job is to tolerate whatever they do or decide. This isn’t true. In fact, we often help sustain an unhealthy system through quiet subservience. So, sometimes, our problem is us.
Some would call it being like Jesus to quietly endure dysfunctional leadership in silence. In fact, I heard someone I greatly respect teach this last week.
The problem is, that’s barely Jesus at all.
Nothing about it resembles Jesus’ intolerance of vain religiosity or abuses of power. When one reviews Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders of His day, it’s hard to make the case for silent tolerance of sin or hypocrisy in church leaders. So, why do His followers put up with it? Because we are taught that’s what it means to be like Christ. Sometimes, it’s good old-fashioned fear. Or, we’re taught that we’re outranked and have no right to speak up.
Being like Christ means being for truth, for justice, for mercy, for what’s courageous–and doing so for the sake of others without pride or malice. Remember you don’t have all the answers, and be willing to admit when you’re wrong. Don’t expect everything to go your way, and be steadfast in loving the church. Communicate in biblical ways that are seasoned with the fruit of God’s Spirit.
But, don’t be the problem. Don’t be the leadership problem in your church, or sustain such a sickness in the Body.