Over the weekend I came across this article on the Five Things You’re Doing That Won’t Grow Your Church.
It’s an interesting article on what I imagine the author would say are time wasters for the pastor to be doing.
I agree with the overall ideas presented. There are many activities that pastors do that could really be done, and typically done better, by someone else. Besides, what better way to involved more people than having people do some of the necessary things that need to happen in a church. It’s not healthy for a pastor to do everything in a church.
If I could sum up the main point of the author, I would say he is arguing for delegation.
And then there are parts that I don’t agree with (kind of).
First, create a 20 song playlist. These are the 20 songs you’ll rotate through until your church has broken a hundred and you can hand off all this kind of work to someone else. (You can add Christmas and Easter songs later – they don’t count against the 20 song list). Make sure the songs are your congregation’s most favorite – that way the only ones complaining will be your classically trained organist of pianist. Remind them how much easier it will be to prepare from now on!
Yikes! My initial reaction was one of reading it with a cringe.
I’m not someone who is able to read music. My wife is (she’s an organist, plays the piano and is musically talented beyond my wildest dreams). Music doesn’t affect me as much as it does her. Having said that, she made a great point the other day. She said, “if you are going to use Powerpoint to show music, have the notes available for people who can read music – that way they can sing along. Others will hear the singing and be able to follow the tune. It helps everyone.” Great point.
Plus, 20 song playlist? That’s all? I don’t see this working in a Lutheran setting for one reason – we have a liturgical calendar with different seasons throughout the year. This means the music changes throughout the year. Can you imagine playing happy, happy, joy, joy praise songs at the end of Lent?
I think what this really speaks to is that there is no one-size fits all solution for any church. The 20 song playlist may be a great fit for the author’s church. It fits the context. But it probably won’t work in a more liturgical church. Great – don’t do it.
The point is – pay attention to the context and where you are going. Why are you singing the songs and hymns that you are singing? Is it because it’s what we’ve always sung? Is it because the hymns fit the Gospel? Is it another reason? Who’s picking the music? We can get lot’s of great questions and considerations from this point.
The last point (Keeping the Church On Track by Attending Meetings) is right on point. I’ve heard too many pastors talk about being bogged down with meeting after meeting. I’m not a big fan of big meetings either. Some are necessary, I’ll give you that. But most are done because…well…because it’s been a month since the last meeting and we are supposed to have a monthly meeting, regardless of whether we need one or not.
I’ve heard some unique solutions to this challenge. One solution from a pastor was to have all meetings scheduled on the same night each week, at the same time. Radical. People complained about this for a number of reasons. Here’s the changes that it forced to happen. 1. It required more people to be involved. In other words, you really can’t serve on more than one committee at a time. Why is this a good thing? Simple, power doesn’t consolidate in the hands of just a few people. Having more people involved in the life of the church is healthy. 2. The pastor committed to attending each meeting for a total of 10 minutes. He would come in and the committee would tell him what he needed to know in that 10 minutes and he would provide what information he needed to give them in that 10 minutes. Then it was off to the next 10 minute meeting segment. This is a good use of time for the pastor. There were times when this would fluctuate of course – some issues were serious and required the pastor to be there the entire time, but that was a rarity. 3. It creates a sense of trust in people – the pastor doesn’t have to be present for everything – the pastor trusts people to do stuff and make decisions.
I’ve heard other unique solutions to the meeting challenge. But this post is already long enough and I’ve broken a big blogging rule – only post on one subject. So tell me, what are your thoughts on the article? I’d love to hear what you think.