by Thom Rainer
Words have meaning. And if church members start articulating words consistently, those words begin to reflect the priorities and passions of the church.
I wrote a little book (I Will) on statements church members make that can move a church toward Great Commission and Great Commandment greatness. But there are some sentences that can prove harmful, even deadly, to a congregation. Here are seven of the most deadly statements:
- “I like our church just the way it is.” When you begin to hear this statement expressed among church members, you can be certain there is no Great Commission heartbeat. We should never want our church to stay just like it is; we should be constantly seeking to reach new people with the gospel.
- “My pastor doesn’t visit me enough.” There are so many things wrong with this statement. First, it reflects a ministry where there is expectation that the pastor is to do most of the ministry, instead of equipping others to do the work of ministry. Second, it reflects a dependence and self-centered ministry on the part of church members.
- “I always vote ‘no’ just to keep the leadership in check.” This person is the disrupter I described in an earlier post. He or she really wants the focus on self. Attention seeking and self-focus are characteristics of this person. They are toxic to churches.
- “I just can’t worship with our style of music.” The worship wars aren’t over. These church members could never be missionaries because their indigenous people group probably wouldn’t be singing hymns from the hymnals. There is no sense of worship with these church members; they are all about their own preferences and desires.
- “People know where our church is if they want to come.” This statement reflects deadly ecclesiology and deadly missiology. It assumes that the church is a place; and it assumes that the Great Commission is, “Y’all come.”
- “I love you pastor, but…” This statement reflects a church member who is both deceitful and deadly. He or she tells leaders they love them, but puts a metaphorical knife in their backs at the first opportunity. These members tear churches apart.
- “I pay my tithes here, so I deserve…” This church member sees his or her offerings as conditional. So, in a real sense, they aren’t offerings as much as they are country club dues. They will continue to pay their way as long as they get their way.
To be clear, most church members do not make these statements nor do they reflect these attitudes. But healthier church members should and must speak up when they hear other members making such destructive statements.
Otherwise, the naysayers, cartels, critics and bullies will have their way in the church. And the church will soon cease being the church.