Ten People Who Will Kill Your Church: Part Two

July 31, 2009

Last Friday, I posted the first installment of ten people who contributed to the death of my church. The countdown began with three people who really turned out to be the least of our problems, only breaking our spirits enough to prepare us for the real problems ahead…

This week, our problems build for the final showdown!

Last week got tons of feedback, all of which I welcome. There were positive comments and praise, along with people calling me a bent-out-of-shape malcontent, armchair quarterbacks pointing out how much we sucked at being a church, and those who said I had no business criticizing other Christians.

So, with no further ado, let’s see what you have to say today:

Ten People Who Will Kill Your Church: 4-7

The Hijacker
Picture the perfect church visitor. He walks in, eager to meet people. He’s enthusiastic about your little church and wants to participate. He even has skills to contribute to your worship service! He seems mature and willing to serve.

Nothing makes a little church wet its pants faster than new visitors. And if the visitor actually wants to contribute? Let’s get you a nametag right now, new member!

Our hijacker fancied himself a musician. Like many, his skills did not match his ego. Strike one.
He was seminary trained, but not a minister. Strike two.
His family just couldn’t find a church like the one back home. Strike three.

He had designs on us. We were small and thus malleable enough, that he would’ve made short work of molding us into his image. He had the controlling personality of a minister but a weak stomach for the responsibility. And he was bent on recreating us into that blessed church he so missed.

For the love of everything holy, no matter how good a visitor looks, make them sit down and shut up for six months before you let them do anything beyond bringing cookies. Fortunately, our hijacker aborted his mission when a message from God told him there was a church down the street that needed him even more.

The Snake Oil Salesman
Pastor: “I think we need to expand our influence on our community beyond Sundays and Wednesdays…”

Elder: “I agree, we should do something. We need to look more important than those Baptists down the street. But how?”

Deacon: “We don’t use our building more than twice a week. How do we put it to good use?

Enter: Snake Oil Salesman: “Friends, I couldn’t help noticing your empty building and monitoring your conversation from the bushes outside. The name’s Lanley. Lyle Lanley. And I come before you good people tonight with an idea. Probably the greatest… Aw, it’s not for you. It’s more of a First Baptist idea.”

Pastor: “Now just a minute. We’re twice as smart as those Baptists. Just tell us your idea, and we’ll vote for it.”

Snake Oil Salesman: “Okay, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You’ve got a building I want. I’ve got people you want. You open your building five nights a week to my non-church related community group. Why, I guarantee that this building itself will make strangers automatically convert and join your congregation! And it will cost you practically nothing, though we can’t pay you anything. It’s win-win!”

From the time you start a church, there will be people who want to use the church, the people, and the money for non-church purposes. And you will want to give in because it might make your church important to people who don’t go to church. Fact: anything the church sponsors that doesn’t directly relate to worship or missions will cost more than you think and probably yield almost nothing.

The Usurper
Every hero needs a villain. If you’re a pastor, you’re Batman. And your villain probably won’t be likable or charming like Catwoman…unless she’s that Catwoman that came out a few years ago, because that was the worst.

It will be the Usurper’s job to love the church more than anything else…and hate the pastor more than anything else. In fact, the Usurper will love the one and dislike the other so much, she’ll want the pastor’s job! Sure, she may not have seminary training, leadership skills, basic hygiene, or even a calling to the ministry. But an undying lust for power is enough qualification to run a church.

You may find a Usurper already in the woodwork when you get hired at a church. If you’re starting a church, your Usurper will play nice until she gets her grubby paws on some seemingly insignificant responsibility. Once that happens, the gloves are off, as she tries to influence every aspect of the church, hoping people will begin to think her indispensible.

Our Usurper became pivotal once all the pawns were in place for her to make the perfect play…

Everyone in your church may be ‘Christians,’ but that doesn’t mean a Christian can’t be an enemy who God will take away if you pray hard enough. Enemies who at think they’re saved fight to the bitter end.

The League of Rebels
Even the strongest villain needs an army of darkness, and it’s likely that your Usurper won’t be alone. Where you find one bug in the house, there’s bound to be more.

If you don’t take care of your Usurper right away, you’ll find she’s spawned, like a giant disgusting termite queen birthing tons of hungry little worker-Usurpers, all tearing down, causing disunity. They’ll be everywhere, sowing seeds of dissent against the pastor for any reason, real or imagined. Because when people are fighting for the church they love, it’s not just a fight, it’s a holy war.

Now we’re having fun! Next week, all the pieces are in place for our church’s exciting conclusion! How will it all turn out? Share your stories if you’ve got them!