In the ongoing quest to “grow” and “change,” congregations want to get there as quickly as possible and so they make the fastest, easiest choices instead of the best and most thoughtful choices. Eventually we all pay for fast and easy. For example:
- Congregations in transition hire a retired Big Steeple Pastor (strong preaching, lots of experience) to be their Interim leader. The sermons are comforting, the pastor is impressive but very little transitional work is done and – when the new pastor arrives – they still don’t know how to be a 21st Century Church.
- Congregations between pastors spend that interim time getting ready for their next chapter by painting the front door, re-writing the Manual of Operations, and weeding the playground. But they do not spend any time discerning who they are now or how their neighborhood’s needs have shifted or why they exist.
- Congregations rush through the process to call a new pastor and they swiftly call someone who looks the part. But it takes just a few months to notice that it’s not actually a good match after all. (Wisdom from my sister: It’s better to be alone than to wish you were.)
We seem to be addicted to quick and easy – even in discerning spiritual leadership.
Poor leadership is the #2 reason why congregations fail to thrive. The #1 reason congregations fail to thrive is because the congregation doesn’t want to do the work. Ouch. (But it’s often true.)
Let’s do the work of discernment. Let’s let go of our fear and trust that God is in this.