The following is an insightful blog post by Roger Hernandez, the Ministerial and Evangelism Director for the Southern Union of Seventh-day Adventists. Roger is the author of five books, the most recent being Epic Fail, published in 2011. You can read his other blogs at leadsu.org.
Five Dangers of Churches in Trouble (you might not have thought about)
1. Debate team.
Usually debate in churches are centered in three areas (they all start with D): Dress Drums Diet
Churches in danger pick one or more and make that the subject of conversation and attention. It seems that they want to be known for what they are against. Ellen White on the subject of dress said this: (kind of long, but really good, so read it all!)
“There are many who try to correct the life of others by attacking what they consider are wrong habits. They go to those whom they think are in error, and point out their defects. They say, “You don’t dress as you should.” They try to pick off the ornaments, or whatever seems offensive, but they do not seek to fasten the mind to the truth. Those who seek to correct others should present the attractions of Jesus. They should talk of His love and compassion, present His example and sacrifice, reveal His Spirit, and they need not touch the subject of dress at all. There is no need to make the dress question the main point of your religion. There is something richer to speak of. Talk of Christ, and when the heart is converted, everything that is out of harmony with the Word of God will drop off. It is only labor in vain to pick leaves off a living tree. The leaves will reappear. The ax must be laid at the root of the tree, and then the leaves will fall off, never to return.” EGW2. You and your kin, can’t. (Too many family members in the leadership team.)
I have seen this time after time. I don’t pretend to know all the churches in the world, but I have NEVER seen a church that has a great percentage of family members in the leadership team be healthy. Two reasons:
a. Families fight. They bring their personal issues to board meetings and sometimes it spills over to ministry functions.
b. Families unite. The pastor presents a great idea, but the matriarch or patriarch or whomever hates it. Other family members hate it also. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because its hated by their family, and if you like it, it would make for a very uncomfortable Thanksgiving.
3. Perceptions of outsiders.
Outsiders (especially the ones with the gift of leadership) are seen as threats, not help. Many church members derive their identity from power in the local congregation. For some, the church is probably the ONE thing that is going right in their lives. I once knew a church that was upset at the pastor because the attendance jumped from 12 to 50 for Wednesday night prayer meeting, with the increase being non-members. Being outnumbered and outvoted was not in their plans. So they boycotted.
4. Preserve vs advance.
Some churches base their identity in preserving, rather than advancing the kingdom. Advancing includes taking risks, and engaging the enemy. That is risky. For some, familiar is equal to holy. New is equal to dangerous. We don’t compromise biblical values. We also don’t exchange our mission for complacency. I don’t have the time to build higher walls. When people say: the world is coming into the church, I think to myself: isn’t that the point?
5. Conspiracy connections.
We have seen an increase of these lately. They usually have to do with the government, diet, the papacy, the Illuminati, or the papacy’s Illuminati’s diet. Some well-intentioned person told one of my family members that she should not eat pop-corn because it’s full of radiation. Expressions like that make us look weird. We are to be different. Not weird. Let me dispel the rumors:
*The pope’s brother/cousin/babysitter? Not Adventists.
*(insert favorite Adventist leader here) is NOT a Jesuit. (several websites affirm this)
*Popcorn can clog your arteries, but not with radiation.
Let’s pray, and work for healthy Adventist churches. We need one in every community. We need to plant more, grow more, serve more, win more.
Read More from Roger Hernandez