Monday, November 26, 2007

How to Kill Growth

When we talked about church growth, we ended up talking about amorphous concepts like "buzz", "love", and "vision", and it may be that church growth just doesn't fit itself into a to-do list. But it's easy to make a to-do list if you want to kill growth. No matter how wonderful the sermons, growth can be easily killed simply by doing any one or two of the following.

  1. Get into a fight, don't end the fight, keep it going, let it permeate all aspects of a congregation, never tell the people who are fighting that they are hurting the church, and don't do anything that would tred on their sacred right to freely say whatever hurtful, horrible things they want to say to as many people as they can find. That will insure that the congregation's "buzz" is a matter of whispering in corners or raised and edgy voices. Big Growth Killer. Nobody comes to church to fight. Church fights leave ministers and lay people with Post Traumatic Stress. The people who join a church that's in the middle of a fight are either astoundingly dedicated, clueless or..worse yet, like to fight.
  2. Let your building and grounds get run down, looking like nobody in this supposedly caring, dedicated community cares.
  3. Pay absolutely no attention to the changes the churches around you are making in worship. You may have great reasons to do it your way, but if you're clueless (or look clueless) to the culture around you, that culture is not going to knock on your door.
  4. Pay no attention to your guests (aka visitors). Make sure they are uncomfortable from the moment they arrive on your property and don't see a sign or a greeter telling them where to go. Keep them wondering after the service...where is that social hall? Don't interrupt your important conversations about church business to say Good Morning or find out where they came.
  5. Make it clear to parents that you don't really care about children. Tuck them away in a basement. Rent your classrooms to a daycare center which throws sheets over all their cool toys so that the children who come to Sunday School feel like they are camping out in a graveyard of forbidden joys. Use hand-me-down games and toys. Don't sign kids in and out of classrooms. (Parents have been taught to be clinically paranoid about their children's safety. They sign their kids in and out of birthday parties these days.)
I could go on and on forever, and in excruciating detail, but it's too depressing. It's all too easy to kill growth in a church! I've seen all these things and had to find ways to get well-meaning UU's to quit doing them. I'm tired now and am going to bed.


Ms. Theologian said...

I think "camping out in a graveyard of forbidden joys" is a great phrase.

RevWend said...

Wow Christine, this is very helpful stuff! Thank you for these practical insights.