Ten People Who Will Kill Your Church: Part One

July 24, 2009

I was part of a church that died.

What made it even more painful was that my family had planted the church. My Dad was the pastor.

Despite our best intentions, our plans, our prayers, the church did not just die, but was killed. It was as if no matter how many times we put Satan on notice to leave us alone, he kept sending the most ridiculous string of characters, the exact wrong people to our doorstep. The church wasn’t killed all at once one day, but over some years as each person came in, chipped away at the rest of us, and left.

There were ten people who killed the church. I could’ve written a book about it, but I don’t have time to debase myself for the sake of getting published, so you get it in shortened blog form. I already debase myself for far too many other reasons. Today, and over the next two more Fridays, I want to tell you about them. I write this not to sound bitter, but to share and warn, and perhaps relate to others in difficult circumstances. Watching your church die is painful. You’ll have to wait until the end to see how our story turned out!

Ten People Who Will Kill Your Church: 1-3

The Musician
I know there’s a lot of musicians who read this blog, so I’ll just ask you directly. Why are so many of you a bunch of whiny, insecure-yet-pretentious prima donnas? Honestly, we had a string of musicians all the way back to the beginning of the church who felt they were much more talented, worth more money, and more indispensable than they ever could hope to be. I’ll take an average musician with a good attitude any day over these characters.

Ironically, one of the musicians selflessly gave up her paycheck as part of the financial campaign. God bless her. Her subsequent music went from mediocre to just terrible. Way to make a sacrifice for Jesus.

The musicians killed the church because the church believed they were indispensable. And we thought we needed music, and a particular kind of music. Wrong. Try having worship without music. People did it for centuries, and still do it. If you’ve got a musician with a bad attitude, throw them out, put them in charge of children’s music, but don’t let them control the church.

The Building
Okay, this one isn’t a person. But this is the only non-human that had a hand in killing the church. Our church had a rented space, then we bought a piece of land with a little house which we met in. We were living the dream, building a church! Our time in the ‘church house,’ right before we achieved our dream of being a ‘real’ church were the best couple of years of the church’s life.

You know how you always wanted a pony or an elephant when you were a kid? If you had actually gotten one, you’d be ecstatic! That would’ve been great until you realize how much animals eat and digest and you’re the one filling up grocery bags with pony poops. Church buildings are the same way. Even if they have ribbons in their hair, they still poop. And someone’s got to pick it up. Thank God, Dad didn’t get you that pony.

However, God did give the church the pony we wanted. By the time our tiny church had built the building, our energy, our money was spent, but we had done ‘the job.’ The novelty wore off when the realization came that we had not grown into this large building, and maintenance and money were in short supply.

That building became our idol while it was still a drawing. Then it became our pet pony.

The New Recruit
New churches can have a particular eagerness about them. The people want to please others, do the things the ‘big’ churches are doing. Sometimes that means getting ahead of themselves.

We were eager to hire a second pastor.

Here were his qualifications:
He answered our ‘want ad.’
He had not yet graduated seminary.
He was from a troubled past and still had emotional baggage.
He was willing to be paid poorly.
He had visited our church twice.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet even ‘big boy’ churches do the same thing. They don’t properly evaluate a new pastor, and the fit isn’t right. Well, this guy wasn’t just a bad fit, but a bad pastor, lacking in social skills, preaching ability, pastoral empathy, common sense, and the ability to not secretly solicit money from old ladies for personal use.

Let’s just say, a panda bear would’ve been a better pastor, and that’s saying a lot. Have you ever tried to get pastoral counsel from a panda? It’s even worse than having church in a pony.

You’ve probably got all the pastors you need. This enterprise of churches hiring strangers to be their friend/pastor for a few years, I find increasingly strange. So the next time someone wants to pay a stranger $40,000 to be friends with the 38-42 year age group, maybe think again.

I’ll be back next Friday with another round of people who helped knock out our church like fat in a George Foreman grill.

Anyone been in a church that died? Was it for any of these causes?