“Broken Churches produce broken people.” I’m not using the word “broken” in a super spiritual, broken, contrite kind of way. I mean that in the lazy, listless, and stagnated kind of way.
This phrase was told to me by my good friend Phil Brassfield. I was struggling with how to approach change, and exactly what we should do as we planned to relaunch an existing church into what is now CoastLife Church. It took a year for me to finally get a launch date, and officially begin the church that God had placed in my heart. I took an existing, broken church of 15 people. No, I’m not exaggerating or lying. The average attendance of the church was 15. Something I didn’t foresee happened over the course of the year before the relaunch. The church began to grow, up to and as many as 30 people in attendance. Yes, I will be glad to speak at your next Church Growth Conference. However, it concerned me because the old church was beginning to become the enemy of the new church. The growth was not from new believers, it wasn’t people coming back to Christ, or current Christ followers find a deeper experience at our church. The “new” people were mirror images of the old church. Lazy, lethargic, bitter, and often times hateful people. I was expressing my frustration when Phil reminded me that “like produces like.” Apples produce apples, oranges produce oranges, and broken churches produce broken people. We were a broken, unhealthy church and we were attracting broken, unhealthy people. Please understand that we are all about reaching the hurting, and helping those in despair. Broken is a term I use to describe people who are trapped in tradition, cold in their relationship with God, and generally satisfied to be unhealthy and not growing spiritually. Churches that fit that description attract and produce Christians that fit that description. I’m proud to say that in June of 2010 we relaunched into a healthy vibrant church. All but 2 of the original members have left. Our church is now a healthy, life giving environment that provides healing to literally hundreds of people. Here are 3 questions to ask to determine if a church is broken:
1. Are there questions you hope people don’t ask?
A church that is unclear about its doctrine, vision, and direction is a broken church. If you hope you don’t have to be honest with new people because it will offend the old people you have a problem.
2. Are there things practiced, but not preached?
A healthy church has a solid alignment between what is preached and what is practiced. If it isn’t clearly communicated from the pulpit it shouldn’t be enforced anywhere else. If stated and unstated values aren’t aligned it leads to a broken culture.
3. Are there people you wish would go ahead and die?
Okay, perhaps retire might be a more palatable phrase. Nevertheless, you get my point. Are there people in positions who have long since lost the passion, purpose, and vision of the house. Honestly, it would be better to have no ministry than to have those people in leadership in your church. Shut it down, burn it down, resign and retire people. Do whatever it takes to see your church healthy and producing a life giving environment.