#5 of 09: Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing

book-cover2Geoff Surratt’s new books Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing is essentially a look at how stupid pastors and churches can be and how we think people will just come to church.

One of the great things about this book is how fast it moves. I actually read it in about 2 days.

Oftentimes, whether we realize it or not, churches shoot themselves in the foot. They do the little things wrong which hurt them in the long run. Whether it is having a dirty facility, bad children’s ministry, bad signage, starting late, it is the little things that make a big difference.

Geoff points out 10 things that most churches do without even thinking and they are 10 things if done differently would make a huge difference in helping people find their way back to God.

These things matter, because if the little things are done wrong, people don’t hear the gospel. Now, they may be in your church, hearing the gospel, but they don’t hear the gospel.

He gives a great example of churches that don’t start on time. It communicates to guests, we don’t value your time. We’ve started a service at Revolution when the only people in the auditorium was the band, a/v team and me. The band led worship for me, it was awesome.

For me, the first two chapters were worth the price of the book: “Trying to do it all” and “Establishing the wrong role for the pastor’s family.” These are two things I’ve been working on recently and coming to some helpful conclusions on. (Read more about that here) Geoff said, “Trying to do all (or most) of the work themselves is the number one stupid thing pastors and leaders do that inhibits their church from growing.” One of the most amazing things about handing things off to other leaders is that many of the things I hate to do, are not gifted to do, suck the life out me, there is a leader in my church who is salivating at the prospect of doing that very thing and would give their right arm just for the chance to do it. Weird, but that is how God created us and intended for the church to work.

But shouldn’t the pastor pastor everybody? Shouldn’t they care for everybody? Isn’t that what we pay him for? If my small group leader shows up at the hospital instead of the pastor, did I get ripped off? Shouldn’t the pastor visit everybody?

This is how many people think about pastors and churches. Perry Noble said, “We fail to teach people that the church is not effective when the pastors ministers to the people, but rather when the body ministers to the body. Many of us feel that if we teach people that God expects them to actually do ministry rather than critique it, they may leave the church.” Ephesians 4:11 says that a pastors job is to train the church (the body) to do the work of the church (the body) and then release them to do it. At Revolution, I visit people and pastor people, but some of the things traditionally associated with a pastor, we have leaders who are more gifted than I am in those areas. And they are dying to do those things because God created them to do those things. If I keep those things to myself and don’t allow them to do what God has wired them to do, I am actually sinning because I am keeping them from fulfilling God’s call on their life, which is them sinning.

At the end of each chapter, Geoff interviews a different pastor to get their perspective on the topic from the chapter. This was incredibly helpful, to get another point of view, as well as to have another application point and ideas to take with you.

Here are a few other things that jumped out:

  • Americans don’t do boring. They will put up with heresy, lies, and deception; but if you bore them, they will check out immediately.
  • Do not beg people to volunteer in children’s ministry. You need to know that your potential team members’ need to volunteer is bigger than your need to have a warm body in the room.
  • If we are going to keep our focus on gathering more and more sheep into our sheep pen by collecting as many sheep as possible from other meadows around town, there is no reason to maintain so many buildings, pay so many pastors, and support so many bloated ministries. If, however, we stop worrying about whose meadow the sheep are eating in this weekend and start worrying about all of the sheep who have no shepherd, then we will never have too many churches.
  • The key to effective team-based ministry is to remember that leaders lead and teams follow. When teams lead, you have chaos; when leaders follow, you have confusion.

Hands down, the best line in this book had to do with raising up leaders and finding the best leaders for something:  “Usually the best person to lead an area of ministry you want to give away is already too busy to volunteer. Effective leaders are seldom sitting around looking for something to do with their time.” This is so true. If someone is a leader worth having, they are using their gifts somewhere. I have learned, if someone is not a competent leader at work or in their home, there is a reason. That reason will often keep them from leading at a church. If their employer doesn’t promote them to leadership (and then spend more hours with them than I do), why should they be in leadership at church? We are talking about people’s eternities, the stakes are higher, the bar should be higher for leaders.

All in all, this is a book definitely worth picking up.

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