Arquivo da tag: shepherding

Hidden, Dangerous, Contagious: 10 Church Diseases You Should Know

Has your church contracted any of these fatal diseases?

Has your church contracted any of these fatal diseases?

By Chuck Lawless

In the 1990s, Peter Wagner published The Healthy Church, a book describing several diseases that churches sometimes exhibit. Some of his descriptions are quite helpful (e.g., koinonitis = excessive, inward fellowship), and the list itself challenges readers to come up with their own descriptions.

Here are 10 diseases I see as I consult with unhealthy churches around the country:

1. Community Disconnect Disease.

Churches with this disease meet within a given community, but they do not know that community. Often, church members drive to the church building, meet as “church” and then drive home—without ever taking note of a changing community around them.

In fact, I’ve seen church members with this disease lock their doors as they drive through the community where their congregation gathers.

2. Methodological Arthritis.

I give credit to my former student, Kevin Minchey, for naming this condition. The name says it all: This church is stuck in doing things the way they’ve always done them.

Change (that is, movement) is painful, and it’s seemingly easier not to take a step forward. What these churches often don’t recognize is that standing still is also risky.

Eventually, they will not move at all.

3. The “Grass is Greener” Syndrome.

This syndrome is a malady of leaders who are always looking for the next church leadership position. They establish no roots, and their current congregation is only a stepping-stone to the next place. Because they are always looking elsewhere, they miss the present tense blessings of their ministry.

And, though leaders think otherwise, a church often recognizes when its leader has this syndrome.

4. Professional Wrestling Sickness.

I grew up watching professional wrestling (with my Church of God grandma, no less). Professional wrestling is hero versus villain, right versus wrong, good versus evil—but it’s all fake.

The church with PWS talks a good game in standing for righteousness, but hypocrisy is everywhere. And, as in professional wrestling, most spectators watching the show know it’s fake, too.

5. Program Nausea.

Churches with Program Nausea try a program, toss it soon and then quickly try the next one. They never have a settled “organizational stomach” and direction.

Members of this kind of diseased church are so accustomed to change that they seldom invest in any program. Why should they invest in what will soon be spit out, too?

6. Baby Believer Malady.

This congregation is doing evangelism well, but they have no strategy to grow new believers. Their unwritten, and wrong, assumption is, “As long as you show up for our small groups and worship service, you’ll grow.”

This church disciples poorly and often elevates leaders on the basis of attendance rather than spiritual maturity.

7. Theological Self-Deception Ailment.

I am cautious here, lest I leave the impression that theology does not matter. No church with an unbiblical theology can be healthy. TSDA, on the other hand, is characterized by a belief that teaching theology is all that is required to be a healthy church.

Teaching theology is critical, but a theology that does not lead to intentional evangelism, disciplemaking and global missions is not biblical. Indeed, TSDA congregations tend to be classrooms more than New Testament churches.

8. “Unrecoverable Void” Syndrome.  

Church leaders and laypersons alike suffer from this syndrome, characterized by statements like, “This church will close its doors after I’m gone.”

Symptoms include spiritual arrogance and self-righteous anger, though they may also include hyperspiritual speech (“This is God’s church, and we’ll see what He does when I shake the dust off my feet”).

Church members with UVS fail to realize that God’s church will go on without any of us.

9. Talking in Your Sleep Disease.

You may recognize this church. They go through the motions, but the motions lack energy. They meet for worship, yet the singing is lifeless. Even the preaching is lackluster, as if the speaker is monotonously only meeting his obligation.

Here is one way to recognize the church with TIYSD: Many of the attenders really ARE sleeping!

10. Congregational Myopia.

The congregation with this condition is nearsighted, focusing on themselves only. They have no vision for the future, and they fail to see that their current direction will likely lead to further disease and decline.

Ask the leaders what their hope is for the church five years from now, and their description will sound strangely like the church in its current state.

What other diseases come to mind for you?

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at
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Publicado por em 01/05/2015 em POIMENIA


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12 Reasons Churches Don’t Practice Church Discipline

Reasons church leaders give for not practicing church discipline.

Reasons church leaders give for not practicing church discipline.

Some years ago, I conducted a study and wrote a book on membership classes in local churches. Many of those churches included teaching church covenants in their membership class, but they talked very little about church discipline. That is, they established expectations but did not always talk about accountability. Since then, I’ve conducted an ongoing informal survey to see why churches don’t do discipline. Here are the primary findings, in no particular order.

1. They don’t know the Bible’s teaching on discipline. I can only guess what percentage of regular attenders in evangelical churches even know that the Bible teaches the necessity of church discipline. This topic is one that some pastors choose to avoid.

2. They have never seen it done before. Some of the reticence to do church discipline is the result of ignorance. Frankly, I admit my own ignorance when I began serving as a pastor 30+ years ago. If you’ve never been part of a church that carried out discipline, it’s easy to let any of these following reasons halt the process.

3. They don’t want to appear judgmental. “Judge not, lest you be judged” takes precedence over any scripture that calls for discipline, especially in a culture where political correctness rules the day. Judging, it seems, is deemed an unchristian act.

4. The church has a wide-open front door. Church discipline is challenging to do if membership expectations are few; that is, it’s difficult to hold someone accountable to standards never stated in the first place. The easier it is to join the church, the harder it is to discipline people when necessary.

5. They have had a bad experience with discipline in the past. For those churches that have done discipline, the memories of poorly done discipline seem to last long. They remember confrontation, judgment, heartache and division—with apparently no attempt to produce repentance and reconciliation.

6. The church is afraid to open “Pandora’s box.” If they discipline one church member, they fear establishing a pattern that can’t be halted as long as human beings comprise their congregation. To put it another way, they wonder how many members will remain if they discipline every member with unrepentant sin.

7. They have no guidelines for discipline. For what sins is discipline necessary? At what point does church leadership choose to make public a private sin? Rather than wrestle with tough questions, many churches just ignore the topic.

8. They fear losing members (or dollars). We hope no congregation makes decisions based solely on attendance and income, but we know otherwise. Sometimes churches tolerate sin rather than risk decline.

9. Their Christianity is individualistic and privatized. Particularly in North America, believers often fail to understand the corporate nature of the church. We gather together on Sunday, but we do so while sharing life with no other believers. Discipline seldom happens if accountability doesn’t matter.

10. They fear being “legalistic.” Legalism can quickly become rules-centered bondage marked by joylessness. Church discipline assumes some standard to which believers are held accountable—and that standard can become legalistic if unchecked.

11. They hope transfer growth will fix the problem. Most churches are accustomed to members coming and going as congregations “swap sheep.” At times, a church is willing to confront a member in his sin—but only enough to encourage him to move his membership to the church down the road.

12. Leaders are sometimes dealing with their own sin. When church leaders are hiding their own sin, they’re less likely to engage others about their failures. To discipline others would be to bring conviction on oneself.

What have you seen? Why do churches not practice church discipline?

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at
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Publicado por em 30/04/2015 em POIMENIA


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Seven Reasons Your Church Needs to Go on a Diet

Most churches—more than eight out of ten—are busy. Too busy. These churches need to slim down their plethora of programs, activities, and ministries. They need to go a busyness diet.

Unfortunately, many church leaders equate activities with godliness or ministry fruitfulness. For certain, churches must have some clear plan of discipleship for their members. Sadly, some of the busiest churches actually diminish discipleship fruitfulness. And ceasing certain activities in the church can be extremely hard. You can run into sacred cows and favored ministries. Still, most churches should pursue a busyness diet for at least seven reasons.

  1. Excessive activities can actually preclude members from growing spiritually. I actually interviewed one church member who said he didn’t have time to read his Bible. He was worn out almost every day from church activities.
  2. A church that is too busy rarely evaluates the effectiveness of its activities. Leaders often erroneously presume that the busyness is a sign of fruitfulness.
  3. Activity-focused churches are often inwardly focused. Those ministries are typically for the members and are rarely evangelistic or community focused.
  4. A busy church can hurt families. Many churches have different activities for children, students, and adults on multiple days of the week. Family members rarely have time together.
  5. Activity-focused churches can cause member burnout. When a member burns out, he or she then drops out.
  6. It is difficult for a church to do a few things well when it does too many things. Quantity thus replaces quality, and the most vital ministries suffer.
  7. Busy churches often lack vision clarity. Because these churches are going in so many directions, members are confused about the priorities and vision of the church.

Try this exercise. List every ministry, program, or class that your church offers in a year. If the list is exceedingly long, see if just a few can be eliminated without much pain. Then, before you add anything else to the activities of your church, make a commitment to eliminate two existing activities.

Admittedly, busyness diets are not always easy or pleasant. But they can make the difference between a busy church and a fruitful church.


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Publicado por em 21/10/2013 em POIMENIA


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True Shepherding

Urban Park Rangers attempt to capture a Canadian Goose that was found with an arrow through its neck in Prospect Park Thursday morning.Photographs by Daniel Barry for The New York Times

What do you mean I have an arrow through my neck?


Every morning for several months, my wife and I walked past an injured Canada goose, whose feathers stuck out in several directions. For all those months, several geese dutifully stayed with the injured bird.

Likewise, caring for the wounded is the church’s loving duty to her own. Paul teaches us that when one member of Christ’s body suffers, “all the members suffer” (1 Cor.12:26 KJV). Caring for the grieving promotes the unity of the body of Christ and fosters the communion of saints. Furthermore, grieving saints have a claim on our
compassion for Christ’s sake (Matt. 25:40).

This is particularly true of pastors. We are called to be shepherd or pastor (Eph. 4:11), which means we are to “feed (literally, ‘be a shepherd to’) the church of God” (Acts 20:28 KJV). That involves avoiding certain attitudes and cultivating others, then putting those attitudes into action, remembering our great calling as Christ’s undershepherds.

Attitudes to Avoid

First, don’t regard grieving people as an interruption. I was in the ministry for more than ten years when I received what proved to be a life-changing call. I was working on the conclusion of my doctoral dissertation when the phone rang. I sighed as I answered: “Am I that much of an interruption?” asked the voice on the other end. “Interruption?” I asked meekly. “Yes, didn’t you hear yourself sigh?” Suddenly I realized that my dissertation, not the grieving caller, was the interruption. The grieving caller was my life’s work, my calling, my real ministry. My dissertation was the interruption of this real ministry.

I never forgot that lesson over the last eighteen years of ministry. Grieving, hurting people are what ministry is all about. We must not think of our churches and our parishioners in terms of numbers or cases; rather, we should think of our churches as hospitals where the wounded and grieving come to us, seeking our biblical guidance and loving care.

Second, don’t treat all sheep the same. As a good shepherd, remember that some sheep will need more attention than others. Third, don’t forsake shepherding for preaching. Don’t say, “I’m a preacher first and foremost, so I don’t need to spend much time with my flock.” Preaching and pastoring are two sides of the coin of ministry. Yes, it’s tough to do both well, but do them you must. God never promised you that the ministry would be easy.

Attitudes to Cultivate

First, love your grieving people. People are hurting. If we do not shepherd them in their sorrows, we are hirelings, not shepherds, and should repent of our indifference. Say with Richard Baxter, “I am contented to consume my body, to sacrifice to God’s service, and to spend all that I have, and to be spent myself, for the souls of men.” Second, develop a positive attitude toward pastoral ministry. As a pastor, you need to cultivate an attitude of willing servitude to pastoring the needy. Say with Thomas Scott, “Had I a thousand lives, I would willingly spend them in the pastoral ministry: and had I as many sons, I should gladly devote them to it.”

Third, shepherd the grieving as you are shepherded by Christ. Be imitators of Christ for Christ’s sake (Eph. 5:1–2). If Christ purchased His flock with His own blood, should you not be willing to make some sacrifices to serve His hurting people?

Putting Attitude into Action

First, give yourself to the grieving. Offer hurting people your full attention. Put everything else out of your mind when you are with them. Second, focus on the Word. Let Scripture be the center of your visit. Read a brief, fitting portion with emphasis and feeling. Point people to Christ. Never let a visit pass without leaving behind the savor of the world’s best and most able Physician.

Third, bathe your ministry in prayer. Pray earnestly for the grieving in their presence and in their absence. Pray for healing and for submission. Pray for divine intervention and for sanctification of the grief. Encourage the grieving to pray as well. Teach them that praying and ministering to others who grieve can help alleviate their own grief. Fourth, involve the flock. Alert your elders to such cases. Look for other members of the church that may be able to help.

Remember that the grieving and dying are facing many terrors, so offer comfort to the saved, and evangelize the unsaved. What joy we feel as pastors when we see the grieving saved and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ under our shepherding! (2 Peter 3:18).

You are an agent of the Spirit, who has called you to your work, enables and equips you for it, and works through you by His Word to comfort the grieving (1 Peter 1:12). Such an honor far outweighs all the challenges and trials of church work.


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Publicado por em 14/03/2012 em POIMENIA


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