But now, I want to go over some of the ways in which to kill a church. Yes, I could have included these in how to grow a church, but what fun is that?
Therefore, with no further ado, and in no particular order...
How to Kill Your Church:
1. Don't be accepting of new ideas... or even better, pretend you are accepting...It is one thing to straight out put across "We do not want your ideas. We will not accept them. We will not implement them." New/potential members (or some existing ones) don't like this attitude. But what (in my opinion) will chase people away even faster is something that goes like this:
Member: "We want your ideas! We're very accepting of new ideas!"
New/potential member: "Great... what if we do...."
Member: "Nope, sorry. We can't do that."
2. Assume people hate service to the church....I heard it said recently that some of the veteran members of our church are afraid that if they push things on to new/potential members, they'll scare them off. They feel what the did to me was wrong - even though I, and the others who were immediately drawn into the fold, are some of the most active in the church.
So what did they do to me? The day I became a member, as I was leaving the sanctuary, I was snagged my one of the Sunday School teachers asking if I would like to take over teaching. The next day, I was cornered by a friend telling me I was going to be added to a work group and would be responsible for helping keep the church clean, working during funerals, etc. I was approached to help with the mailbox relabeling/upkeep, and to help build a website for the church, and numerous other things.
Yes, I had to say "No" to some of these. But I felt like I belonged. I felt needed. If you want to kill your church, you definitely do not want to be making people feel like this!
3. Assume that because people hate service to the church, you have to force them...Now, this may seem in direct opposition of point 2, so let me attempt to clarify. I would have preferred to be given the option to be put on a work group, to clean the church, and to usher, in the same way I was asked to do the other things. Yes, I would have still said yes, but I should have been given the choice. The church might actually be surprised how many people sign up for cleaning or ushering or baking when allowed the option. Of course, trusting in humankind like this? Yeah, that just might promote a growing church... not something you want to do if your goal is church stagnation or death.
4. Gossip! Always!This really should be at the top of this list. I have heard of more people (particularly women with children) voice this as their reason for leaving. You have a bunch of veteran church-goers, often (but not limited to) older women, who sit in fellowship, not even bothering to whisper "did you hear she's pregnant again? I wonder who the father is this time." Or "oh my, she brought her kids. You'd think she'd be able to control them during service!" Or "his parents don't even bother to come to church - just drop him off for Sunday School. They're so worthless." And the list goes on and on and on of some of the very sad things I've heard uttered, often aimed in the direction of children, in a church setting.
5. Backstab! Being two-faced is a sure-fire church destroyer.This goes something like this... New person makes a suggestion for a change to something within the church. Other member says "Oh I like that idea. That's great. You're so creative!" And then this person goes and runs off and tells everyone else it's a bad idea.
Or, even better, accompany the backstabbing with a bit of embarrassment. You've told the new person you loved her idea, but that it needs to be run by the pastor. So you all meet... and you bring the pastor your own idea rather than even allowing the new person to put hers on the table. Or, you bring your ideas and make sure you say "well, Jill had an idea... but let's look at these instead" completely dismissing the new person.
This is only the first 5...
I have a few more swimming around in my brain, and I would love to hear what others think helps kill the church. Stay tuned for part 2 of this later tonight (I hope), and in the meantime, please comment what else you think should be on this list.
**EDIT** Steps 6-10 are now available! Click here!