Mind the Gap

MindtheGapWhat’s the GAP between what you SAY about your church and what you actually DO? That’s a great processing question for you and your team. For instance…

We sometimes say we’re not like “other” churches. First of all, what the heck does that even mean? But you’re implying that other churches are boring and you are not, are you sure? Sometimes we may think we’re “exciting”, but if we do “exciting” the same way week after week, maybe we’re not as exciting as we think. What we call exciting may just be predictability done louder. And even louder becomes boring after a while.

If you’re implying that other churches are judgmental and you are not, are you sure? Maybe you’re not. Or maybe, if you listen carefully to yourself, you may discover that you’re simply not judgmental about the same things. Kind of like when liberals call Christians hate-mongers…while they beat them with their protest signs. One pastor I know referred to his church as a place of grace…and then called people who had abortions “baby killers” from the pulpit. Sometimes we’re not judgmental. Then sometimes we’re just not judgmental about the same things. Other times we simply become judgmental about judgmental people.

Sometimes we say our church is a “safe place.” But is it really? Safe for who? Do the staff at your church feel safe? Is it a place where they could come to you as a Senior Pastor and deal with HARD stuff? Can they talk openly as a team about the real issues of your church without fear of reprisal or reprimand? Can they disagree and express differences of opinion? Is is “safe” to talk about an event that was a flop? Here’s a litmus test: When you talk about things not going well, is it about figuring out the dynamics to fix it or is it looking for someone to blame? Sometimes a place is safe so long as you don’t bring up the things certain people don’t want to deal with or talk about.

This gap issue is a good one for leader to look at because it reminds us that sometimes the things we say we value really aren’t what we value. It reminds that sometimes what we say is our scorecard for success is not the scorecard we’re actually using. It reminds that sometimes the culture we say we’re creating is not really the one that we’re reinforcing. I’m not advocating to stop stating these things. What I’m advocating is that we look carefully at what needs to change for us to LIVE by what we say we BELIEVE. Because that really is the kind of church that people want to attend.

Post contributed by Steve Chiles, Senior Pastor of Shartel Church of God, in Oklahoma City, OK. He is a coach and consultant with HGC, as well as, providing leadership with the Network Gathering.

photo credit: Mind the Gap by Robert S. Donovan. (license)