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Blog // Thoughts
October 31, 2005

The Components Of A Church’s Success

Matt Stone has blogged on some George Barna that indicate that pastors consider music to be far more important to effective worship than their congregants do. On the one hand you could put this down to superior pastoral insight, but I don’t see it that way. My hunch is that the “game” of pastoral leadership […]

Matt Stone has blogged on some George Barna that indicate that pastors consider music to be far more important to effective worship than their congregants do. On the one hand you could put this down to superior pastoral insight, but I don’t see it that way. My hunch is that the “game” of pastoral leadership shifts the minister’s focus towards manipulating the elements for attractional success. This was clearly the case when I went through theological college. Developing a strong music programme was clearly something the young minister needed to focus on (even when other objectives were vague).

However, Latina Liz (linked throughTensegrities) has a great corrective question. She asks,

“The “how big is your church” question should be replaced with the “how big is your community impact?” I bet alot of pastors with the “numbers” would be silenced.

Something to consider “would the community weep if your church were to pull out of the city? Would anybody notice if you left?” ”

That’s a very good question. I recall a minister comminting on his denominational head office and saying if they ceased to exist the local churches would only notice when the requests for money stopped coming in. The fact was the central denominational leadership were so caught up in their own agendas, they had lost touch with how out of touch they were.

But critical questioning like Latin Liz encourages us to do undercuts the agenda of success and the self-absorbed leadership paradigm it creates. To me this comes back to the question of music for worship in the following way: if pastors were less absorbed in creating worship experiences they could “sell” and more absorbed in nurturing the worship impulses that already exist, they may do better at reinforcing the community contacts that already exist. This would strenghten the connections outside the walls fo the church and make it more “miss-able.”

To much of pastoral, evangelistic and worship practice starts “tabla rasa” as it were. It proceeds as if nothing already exists and everything has to be built from scratch. However, my hunch is that this “everything is new” mentality is part of what allows success-oriented churches to disconnect from their local contexts.

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Matt Stone 17 years ago

Yes, I couldn’t agree more. I would only add another question – how much of the current situation is generate by church structures that tie leadership salary to bums on pews rather than community impact? There are systemic issues here and I have doubts whether salaried pastors are in a position to solve it without cutting their own throats.

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