Always Reforming: Dysfunctions and decline


Last week we focused on assessment and why that process is so important. Assessment informs a local church of the true condition of ministry. It answers the question – “Are we making disciples fully formed in the image of Christ in character and conduct?' If not, you are merely engaging in fruitless activity.

There is a not-so-affirming description of the way many so-called churches function. It is known as the “Happy-Clappy Syndrome.” Let me explain. Churches trapped in this syndrome refuse to entertain anything that is even remotely negative. Criticism, even that which is 100 percent accurate, is strictly forbidden. Often pastors in these churches are quick to cite the ‘touch not my anointed” passage. The Hebrew verb in this passage (Psalm 105:15 and other passages) refers to physical violence, not, accountability). All leaders MUST be held accountable for their leadership. Failure to do so brings major discredit to the Lord and to the church.

Every church has some dysfunction. Identifying those dysfunctions enables the church to correct those issues. Carefully consider the following items. Identify those that are operative in the church where you gather. Encourage the leadership to bring correction to them. They erode and diminish the Great Commission.

Factors producing failure and decline

The church and her leaders accept activity as a substitute for biblical effectiveness.

Failure to objectively measure true ministry effectiveness – are we making disciples?

Failure in the Pastoral Call Process – 9 out of 10 pastors are deficient leaders and their ministry history confirms this fact, yet, churches do not engage viable and diligent vetting to disclose this fact. They call them anyhow. The most accurate predictor of what a leader will do in the future is what he has done in the past.

Failure to engage in periodic objective assessment of ministry endeavors (a minimum of once a month)

Failure to communicate at all levels in a manner that is accurate, timely and abundant

Failure on the part of pastor/elders to connect with other leaders that will hold them accountable. (cf. the situation currently underway in Chicago with a mega-church pastor, one of many that emerged in 2018).

Failure on the part of pastor/elders to invite and accept relationships that insist on mutual transparency and vulnerability leading to true accountability

Failure on the part of pastor/elders and congregations to regard the scripture as sufficient, the living word of God rather than a collection of ancient writings and information. More to come on this vital topic.

Failure to abide by the injunction/command in the Epistle of James – – be doers of the word not merely hearers

Failure for decades by the church to equip the people with a functional biblical literacy

Failure by the people/members to live in obedience to 1 Peter 3:15 – a result of biblical ignorance

Failure on the part of the church to validate professions of faith; many people who are members of the church are not redeemed. The church must consist of regenerate people.

Failure to define with theological precision terms that shape the transformation process. People must know, understand, and apply these terms if growth in grace is the expected and desired result.

Failure to connect in effective and fruitful ways with the community in which the church exists. Lost/unsaved people are not the enemy, but, they are often treated as though they are.

Failure to establish a systematic and ongoing leadership development ministry that prepares men for future leadership

Failure to define ministry objectives with exegetical precision and support that is monitored by a periodic accountability process

Failure to enlist men to lead who are true leaders. According to Barna, only 1 in 8 pastors are habitual rather than situational or circumstantial leaders. IgniteUS sees this as 1 in 10. Situational or circumstantial leaders maintain status quo – they are managers not leaders.

Next week – Level 5 leaders