I coach leaders, travel a bit and have the opportunity to observe churches all over the country.

There are four things I’m seeing as I get around.

Maybe it’s just me; my perspective, my lens through which I see things; my interpretation of what I’m observing. 

At any rate, here they are:

1) Many churches and their teams struggle with assimilating new people;

2) Many churches and their teams struggle with creating a leadership development plan and pathway;

3) Many churches struggle with recruiting and maintaining a good volunteer base;

4) Many churches struggle with the majority of their current and potential leaders being very busy, very tired and moving toward significant burnout.

These are four things I’m seeing everywhere I go and, in most situations, where I’m coaching or consulting leaders and their churches.

I can’t think of a single church that I’ve worked in, or been a part of, during my 53 years of vocational christian ministry which didn’t struggle with all four of these in some way or another. It seems to come up over and over again.

Now, I’m not going to spend the rest of this post trying to “fix” these four issues or telling you what I think you should do. It’s too easy trying to find a “quick fix” or copy what other successful churches are doing, instead of humbling ourselves before God, praying for wisdom and discernment, and thinking outside the box.

He is the Lord of the Harvest and we need to seek him for solutions to these four critical issues.

I genuinely believe this!

If there is no serious thinking about these four issues–some serious praying and addressing them–it’s just a matter of time until the church you are a part of becomes irrelevant and obsolete in trying to advance the gospel, make disciples and plant new churches.

I’m inclined to seriously wonder if we are not overly occupied with rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic (busy, busy, busy) that we’re not aware that our ship is taking on water and slowly sinking. A vast majority of churches in the U.S. are declining, plateauing and dying.

I think that things can be turned around if we:

 1) Have a process in place which adequately helps new people become part of our family. Many churches are seeing visitors come through the front door, but they don’t stick. The back door is too wide open.

 2) Focus on identifying, developing and deploying new leaders. The current ones are serving in a variety of places and roles. It’s the old 80/20 principle:  20% of the people are doing 80% of the work and 80% of the giving. It’s simply not sustainable.

 3) Figure out how to encourage more people to step up and serve the family  they’re a part of. The majority of people in most churches are spectators, not participants.

 4) Ask ourselves why people are perennially so busy, so tired and (almost) burned out and what can be done about it.

All four are interrelated. There is a fair amount of overlap.

I’d love to hear from you.

  • Do you see what I see? 
  • Does what you see bother you and/or keep you up at night?
  • What can we as leaders and our church families do?

I’m trusting that some of you will share some creative ideas on addressing these four critical concerns? Not so others can copy what you are doing,  but so that we can all learn some principles which can be applied in other contexts.