What are your church’s biggest problems? You know – the ones that have people talking in meetings, in the hall, in the parking lot… Chances are that if you’re a leader in your congregation, you could make a list of problems in a quick minute. Maybe go ahead and do that now.
Take a look at your problems, and ask yourself, “What are the three or four problems here that are currently taking up the largest percentage of our time and energy as a congregation?” Or maybe ask, “What are the problems we’re most angsty about these days?”
Got a list of three or four? I’ve asked this question to groups of leaders and entire churches, and inevitably, these are the responses I hear again and again, in no particular order:
- Deferred maintenance on the building
- Lack of participation among families, children, young people…
- Volunteer burnout
- Staffing needs
- Budget woes – shortfalls, stewardship worries, necessary cuts, etc…
Did you name any of these? Care to add one to the list?
Here’s the thing. No one cares. You care, sure, and the people in your congregation – they care, of course. But outside of that relatively small number of people? NO. ONE. CARES.
Ironically, we’d often like for a few more people to join our churches so that they can become solutions to the problems they already don’t care about. Haven’t you had or overheard some version of that conversation in your church? “If just two or three families joined and they each pledged $3,000, we’d see that budget shortfall go away, now wouldn’t we?”
People don’t join our churches because they care about our institutional maintenance problems. They come, they engage, they worship, they give, and maybe they join for much better reasons. Often it’s because they care deeply about problems that have little to do with our institutional health and everything to do with the community, their sense of direction, matters of the spirit…
What happens when we answer the question differently? Our biggest problem? The one we’re here to solve faithfully? The reason we exist? It’s…
Ben Johnston-Krase is a cofounder of Farm Church in Durham, NC, a congregation that meets on a farm and leverages the resources of that farm to address the problem of food insecurity. He blogs about life, church life, and life with cancer at www.PracticeResurrection.com.