Small Church Hostage Crisis


As a lead pastor for sixteen years in a small town, I have seen the good, bad and ugly. There were some great times and some not so great times. But I am thankful for all the experiences. They taught me things about myself I could have never learned otherwise. It's been especially helpful to me because I often work with smaller churches with The Unstuck Group. I understand their struggle. Small town America is a tough mission field. I am privileged to work with pastors because it gives me a front row seat to watch churches execute vision and strategy to reach people who aren't following Jesus. However, I have seen something else not so fun to watch...a hostage crisis. 

When a church begins shifting from an insider focus to an outsider focus, it can cause a rift. People can't understand why worship isn't the way it used to be. And why is it so loud? Why aren't people wearing their Sunday best anymore? When change begins happening, it's normal to receive push back; and when things don't return to normal, eventually people leave the church. As a result, the pastor may become insecure, and without realizing it, is taken hostage by the remaining nay-sayers. This leads to a dangerous place of pleasing people. Plans are paused; action items are tabled; and the church goes back to Egypt where it's safe and predictable. 

This is when we usually find core values and vision have become become violated, all for the sake of appeasing people. Pleasing people is usually a tactic used to close the front door and keep members from walking out. While closing the front door may keep some of your church members in, it close the door for people who need to meet Jesus. 

The Church is an Organism, not an organization

 The apostle Paul calls the church a "body" which means we are classified as an organism, not an organization. Organisms typically do four things: 

1) They eat 

2) They grow 
3) They multiply 
4) They produce waste.

 When we translate that into the church, we can say the church (a living organism) should:

1) Consume God's Word

2) Experience spiritual growth 
3) Multiply
4) And yes, there are times when things must "leave" the body. 

As a pastor, you should never allow nay-sayers to hold you hostage. Leading a church through change requires you to "lose" in order to "gain." Sometimes you must lose programs; and other times you must lose people. That's simply the nature of an organism; that is the rhythm of church growth. Your leadership team is counting on you to make tough decisions that will move the church forward. But most importantly, the unchurched are counting on you to introduce them to Jesus, they just don't know it yet. 

Need help leading through change? Check out our offerings at The Unstuck Group


  1. Amen...going to share this with the folks at the rural church where I minister. This word is a blessing! If you want to know where the heart of the church is, look at the % of the budget going to missions and benevolence. Where we focus as churches may be the defining issue determining whether we capture the hearts of this generation.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Three Conversations that can inject Health into Leadership Development

Staying Alive in a Growing Church

Creating a Healthy Leadership Board in your Church