Competent Churches

A colleague recently described a church nearby as being “the most competent church I have ever served.”  I had never heard a church described like that before.

What he meant was that they get things done.  They are efficient while also being discerning.  They bend the rules when necessary.  They keep their eyes on the mission of the church and the mission is clear.

My only problem with considering the competency of a church is that it presumes that some churches are incompetent.  And while this might be true in some cases, most congregations I know suffer less from incompetency than anxiety.  They are stuck.  They only know what they know and what they know is not working anymore.  Their leaders need new skills and the energy to use those new skills.

I would like to be the kind of leader who invests in the most competent churches and pastors in our Presbytery.  The most competent are entrepreneurial.  They are missional.  They are willing to experiment and if the experiment fails, then at least they learned something. And then they try something else.

The most competent congregations will never ask for money to buy a new church sign.  They know that the kind of sign they need has nothing to do with neon lights.

The most competent congregations will never expect a quick fix.  They get that changing a culture is needed more than changing a light bulb (or a pastoral leader or an organist or an educator.)

The most competent congregations might be small or large, theologically liberal or theologically conservative, rich or poor.  When someone tells me that, “If only they took a stronger stand on guns” or “If only we had more money” I know that – most likely – they are missing the point of making disciples.

If you believe your own congregation is not so competent, what – in your culture – needs to change.  The question is not: why technical changes are needed.

Competent congregations make a lot of mistakes, but the difference is that they learn from them. That image above needs to read “Mistakes” in the plural.


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