7 principles practiced by ineffective churches

I had the privilege of hearing Larry Osborne speak at Sticky Teams 2.0 back in October of 2011. His keynote explored how Seth Godin’s ‘Crowd versus Tribe’ principle (as discussed in Tribes) can be applied to the church. As Godin writes,

“A crowd is a tribe without a leader. A crowd is a tribe without communication. Crowds are interesting, and they can create all sorts of worthwhile artifacts and market effects. But tribes are longer lasting and more effective.”

When the church is ineffective, it is a crowd. When effective, it is a tribe.

Larry pointed out three principles that zap the church of its effectiveness. His discussion lined up with the mission of Church Community Builder: help churches build a larger core by guiding church leaders to a better ‘how’.

  • Principle 1: When your ‘community’ ideals are preached but not lived out.
    You say that building relationships matters, but you aren't really creating effective venues to make them happen or cultivate them more deeply. As a result, the crowd may grow, but the ‘church’ gets smaller.
  • Principle 2: When you count the money/numbers but you don't count the faces.
    If churches took as much time and care with the faces as they do with contributions, they would have a much better understanding of the ‘health’ of their church. Just being on the roster doesn't mean you are showing up.
  • Principle 3: When you confuse being friendly with actually connecting people.
    If you are not multiplying group/community leaders, your existing ones will quickly become ‘full’. Like Lego blocks, we all have a limited number of connectors. When our connectors are full, we may be friendly to someone but we will never really connect with them. We don’t have the margin. So, the church must constantly multiply and raise up new group leaders in order to be sure new people can connect.

I’d like to add four more principles to Larry's list:

  • Principle 4: When you mistake relationships for process.
    Church leaders often trust the members' relationships to catch people falling through the cracks and do not build the necessary processes or invest in the necessary systems to really be good at this. Institutional structure is not an evil thing. It is necessary for good stewardship of the people God has entrusted to us.
  • Principle 5: When ministry activity is not translated into meaningful impact.
    A ‘tribe’, or church in this case, happens when people feel connected to a vision bigger than themselves. However, that vision must translate into measurable life change. People in a ‘tribe’ have no problem articulating the difference their church is making in the community.
  • Principle 6: When churches suck at communication.
    Building on the last point, churches have to tell the tribe where the impact is happening and use multiple communication channels to get the word out. Communication must also be targeted. Don't just assume everyone will care. Take the time to know your members and speak to them in a relevant fashion.
  • Principle 7: When people are not mobilized around the vision.
    They believe that hired staff is the best way or they don't invest in strategies and tools to help distribute the workload. Some that do the latter don't really empower people to lead, so their effectiveness is minimized. If you find the right leaders in your church ... let them LEAD!

So which of these seven principles do you think is the most important? Do you disagree with any of them?

Topics: This entry was posted in Leadership Roles, This entry was posted in Administrative Support, This entry was posted in Discipleship Ministry

Posted by Steve Caton on Jan 6, 2012 10:03:17 PM