(I’m writing specifically about churches, but I’m sure this applies to any small business, large company, non-profit… any group that’s existed for awhile, really.)
Every church has a group of people who remember the good ole days, back when everything in the organization was perfect (in a church, it’s always before the current pastor came). They may be young or old, by the way, and the church may be “traditional” or “contemporary”. They may have fallen in love with a way of doing things 50 years ago or 2 years ago. They speak longingly of how great things used to be before “everything” changed, supported with inflated numbers and idealized memories.
It’s like they picked a hairstyle in the 80’s and decided it could never be improved upon. “This hairstyle is as good as it gets” they proudly muttered to themselves as they gazed into the mirror. “Nothing can change. This is the way hair should always look.”
Except, when it comes to a church’s style, people who long for the good ole days spiritualize their specific cultural preference, “This is the most reverent, God-honoring way of doing things.” Of course, it just so happens to be that their favorite style is also God’s favorite.
An outdated church stands out like teased bangs in contrast to the culture around it, a culture that has actually changed over time. Reality testifies to the fact that the church or the idea is out of date. Maybe an idea that worked 3 years ago isn’t working so well now. Maybe the entire church is so out of style that young people are under-represented and innovative leaders are too frustrated to stay around, or they just never showed up in the first place. Attendance in outdated programs dwindles, and the people who are in love with the outdated style just blame the world around them, “What’s this world coming to? Our city just doesn’t appreciate big 80’s hair!”
The answer is to just acknowledge the truth. They found a program or a style of church they liked 1, 5, 25, 0r 55 years ago. It was meaningful to them. It probably met a deep need they had at that time in their lives. However, it became a problem when they decided that since they liked it it must be God’s favorite too. It’s now sacred to them and can never change. The difficult truth is that now it’s nothing but an outdated style, and God has since moved on along with everyone else who changed over time. It turns out that God doesn’t command us to use Aqua Net.
What programs, decision-making processes, or ways of thinking in your church or organization are as out of date as big 80’s hair?
Also check out: “Steve Carell Leadership” here.