Beware of the “Culture of Can’t.”
When you pastor a difficult congregation, you can easily feel overwhelmed at times with all you know you can’t do. So a trip to the next ministry conference confronts you with seven new ideas, each successfully navigated by an enthusiastic speaker. Just look at what I did…and you can do it too! You’ve been to that conference, haven’t you?
But, truth is, maybe you can’t. You may not have the same environment that speaker encountered. You certainly don’t have the same people to work with. In fact, you may not have the finances, the facilities, or any number of the factors that made the speaker’s success story unfold. You don’t, so you can’t…at least that’s what seems apparent.
But after a few dozen such “can’t” moments, you start doubting whether there’s anything you can do. Frankly, it’s easier to avoid those conferences or those other ministers whose very presence underscores what’s not happening at your church. Can’t certainly means won’t, so why bother.
There is a “CAN.”
This is the point of this series of blogs. Every congregation can begin to move forward if they can find the right path and the right engine to drive them. As we’ve already seen, you’re going to probably need to change your approach–no preaching the church to different thinking, no viral behavior changes are likely, no master program that will make you into one of those conference speakers.
Real change, in such churches, comes through little things. Find the few whose hearts are open to a new day. Look for behaviors that can begin growing at the grass roots of your church. Encourage those choices and watch for momentum and once it comes be sure to carefully remove the things that are slowing it down.
Now, find your engine. What is it your church can do well? What gifts DO reside in the congregation? What passions could be triggered for ministry impact? For example: Do your people care about their children’s futures? Then start investing energy in the local school system. Is your church blessed with a couple of good teachers? Then stop hiding that teacher in a tiny Sunday school class and get him/her set up to teach a marriage or parenting class on Tuesday nights in the local bank basement.
Find your engine.
A local church’s real engine can be found at the intersection of leader passion, congregational abilities, and community need. Aim your church’s limited resources toward such a target can produce surprising results. Stop looking for answers in other churches and start finding them in your own. There is something you and your people CAN do! And the best part is when you and they discover that this is what we were made to do.