Most towns have a church that was THE church in the area years ago, but today it’s only a skeleton of what it once was. What happened?
Many things can kill a ministry, but the one thing I see over and over is bad leadership. If I had a dollar for every time I heard about a bunch of psychotic elders destroying a thriving ministry I could have bought Integrity Music. There’s something about the power surge some (petty) people get when they become an elder that causes them to lose all sense of reality. Maybe the new elder thinks the music is too wild, he can finally do something about it, so out goes the worship leader. Or he feels his kids haven’t received enough attention so the youth pastor gets the axe. Or the assistant pastor won’t kiss his feet and is sent packing his bags (I know one church where all this happened within an 8 month span. The congregation watched in bewilderment as the staff had almost a complete turnover due to one elder.)
I once had lunch with a fairly well known worship leader. He’s been at his church for about fifteen years. Back in the late nineties this church was one of the original megachurches – they were running 5,000 when those kinds of numbers weren’t as common as they are today.
He told me a story that curled my hair – how in 10 years the elder’s constant shenanigans dropped the attendance 90% – they’re currently running about 500. Even more troubling was how this really nice, talented guy – while writing popular worship songs and teaching at worship conferences – was treated like complete garbage in his own church by the elders and lived in constant fear of losing his job.
While we sat talking he was interrupted by a phone call – a newly elected elder had his nose out of joint about the upcoming Sunday song set and wanted it changed.
Who’d want to work at a place like that? And who’d ever want to attend a church like that?
Bottom Line: (for congregations) Stop voting in elders merely because they’re successful businessmen. Look instead for Spirit-led people.