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Assumption #1: Members/Attenders ARE the Church

Assumption #1: Members/Attenders ARE the Church

Second Blog Post Pic (560 wide)

In case you missed our first blog post…

We believe we’ve discovered why so many churches are closing their doors in the U.S.  We think we understand why the perception of the Church and Christians is on the downslide in our society.  Applying management consulting principles to the Church, we now realize that the modern American church’s prevailing growth model violates the most important principle of all successful organizations, including the early Church.

Do you want to see your church growing faster and having a greater impact for Christ? 

Every week we’re going to lay out the Root Cause for the Church’s Decline and its Path to Revitalization.  Be a little patient with us over the first couple weeks – those blog posts are critical in coming to agreement with you on some fundamental assumptions behind our discovery.  Very soon, we’ll share what we believe is the central, flawed premise undergirding nearly every decision the Church makes today.

Only recognizing and rectifying this faulty premise can reverse the decline.  Treating symptoms won’t do it.  Turning the tide requires uncovering and dealing with the core, underlying issue.

This root cause is extraordinarily simple – yet profound.  The logic is straightforward – yet compelling.  I honestly believe the Lord placed me in strategy consulting to Fortune 500 companies for 10 years and then another decade working with churches across the nation so I could make this discovery.  It took being in both of those positions to grasp this key concept.

Ok, let’s dive into the first assumption…

Assumption #1:
A church is not defined as its pastor, staff and buildings.
That’s how we define companies – as its executives, employees and assets.
Instead, in a church, the members/attenders ARE the church.

Few pastors would argue with that.  It’s the people in the church who make up the church, right?  A church is not those it employs or what it owns.  That’s what comprises a business – the business is whoever works for the company and whatever belongs to the company.

What does it truly mean to be a church that’s not defined by its employees and assets?  We understand in principle that the people – members, attenders, staff and pastors – are the Church , but do most churches really live out that belief?  We hear it often on Sunday mornings from the pulpit – “you are the church” or “the church is a who, not a what”.  However, a church fully committed to that basic concept would look and act differently than most churches today:

The members/attenders would realize:

We Have a Job to Do

  • We have responsibilities – we aren’t simply visitors expecting to be fed or entertained
  • We are just as responsible as pastors for bringing people to Christ, discipling, and serving – let’s not leave those tasks to the “professionals”

We Need to Give up Some “Rights”

  • We are not here for ourselves, but for each other
  • We lose our voice to complain. Customers can complain, but as members we surrender that privilege. Why?  Because we are owners – we are on the hook for what happens in the church, not bystanders.

We Should Reevaluate Why We Contribute

  • We’re not giving to build an institution
  • We’re giving to build each other into a powerful force for Jesus

We Are Called to Impact the World Around Us

  • We are the Church but we don’t live in the church building – we live our lives primarily outside the 4 walls
  • Therefore, Church is a decentralized, distributed model – it walks and breathes as we each go to work, neighborhoods, and soccer practice
  • Church is not somewhere we go on Sundays and Wednesday nights

…and the pastors and staff would:

Raise the Bar for Members

  • Hold members accountable for their responsibilities
  • Expect them to carry out those responsibilities at a reasonable level of proficiency
  • Train them to perform effectively as the living, breathing body of Christ

Get Them in to Send Them Out

  • Not focus on member/attender retention or engagement
  • Instead, bring people in to prepare them for a life on mission
  • Teach them the cost of following Jesus, not just the advantages of doing so

Stop Trying to Build an Entity

  • Unlike businesses, don’t take steps to increase loyalty to the institution
  • Build disciples, not an organization
  • Equip and encourage members equally to serve both inside and outside the “4 walls”

“Flatten” the Organization

  • Empower members to “be” the Church, elevating their leadership role relative to pastors
  • Prepare the church to outlive its leadership – since members/attenders, not just pastors, define the church
  • Realize the power of leverage – increase the church’s impact by no longer underutilizing the vast resources sitting in the pews

It’s your turn…

If pastors truly believed this first assumption, what else do you think they would do differently?  What else would members do differently if they fully grasped that they ARE the Church?


5 Responses

  1. Great post Jim. Agree with your first assumption. Looking forward to reading more and prayerful this encourages the church to thrive. Good work.

  2. I am Gideon Yathirajam, President of People in Need Ministries. We are running nonprofit organization to help the orphan children and to uplift the poor people in our country.

    Your newsletter gave me encouragement to contact you.
    I am interested to attend your conference. Can you please provide us a official invitation letter…? Please let me know.

    Thanking you!
    Yours faithfully,
    Gideon Yathirajam
    People in Need Ministries (formerly GGM)

  3. Well said Jim!! Thanks for all you are doing to advance the Kingdom and help build up the Church.

    Bless you Brother-


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Root cause for the Church's decline & its path to Revitalization

“Any organization not focused on its customers, or focused on the wrong customers, cannot succeed.” – Jim Morgan