Wednesday, June 19, 2013

When hard times a church... how you react is who you are

I have studied a bit of Psychology in my day. Studied with one of the Greats. Dr James R. Noland. Back in the 70s. I learned some things about human behavior, stress, fear and our reactions to them. It is fascinating to see how it applies to those who lead churches and fellowships. When stress comes, difficulty, financial, membership drifts, stagnation, a fear that things are going downhill.. leaders will react according to their personalities. Most of the time it is going to produce negative results.

1. One is to TRY HARDER. Turn up the volume. Turn up the heat. Hype the deal. They over-promise and under-deliver. The very thing they fear comes true. Down in flames. Noland called this YELLOW

2. Another reaction is to tighten up control. NO ONE Gets the microphone except the anointed leader. Every song is selected. Every move scripted. It tries to have the look of spontaneity but it has the stench of bureaucracy. One that cannot be overcome by any kind of anointing. STUCK! Noland called this RED

3. Another is to roll back the clock. IF it is a church who's roots were liturgical and traditional, when a stumble comes, the reaction is to retreat to tradition. Robes. Sacraments. A sermon series rented from The worst I saw recently was a sermon virtually read from a book the pastor used as a foundation. Regurgitating someones else's manna. Unsanitary and tasteless. When you see a church retreating further and further back into it's roots... chances are you are watching the death rattle beginning. Noland called this GREEN

4. Another is to do nothing. Be free. All unplanned. No organization. No consideration for anything resembling order. The idea is, "We'll just show up and let the Holy Ghost do what he wants to do". That will work once.. maybe twice. BUT there must be some sense of what that looks like. I would refer you to 1 Corinthians 14 for a sense of this. The reason this happens is an overreaction to the fear based actions of leaders who demonstrate one of the other scenarios above. Noland called this BLUE

There is a RIGHT WAY: The fact is, a leader who is fully self aware, self confident and full of the Holy Ghost will not find difficulty threatening. He or She will move ahead with the knowledge that there are some things that will happen in the meeting. How much, how long and how it looks will be somewhat free and flexible. He will allow things to happen without attempts to impose hype, structure or tradition on them. He knows where this is going. He is free enough to let it happen. The basic elements are present. Worship, Prayer, Devotion, a chance to give, Prophecy, A word, ministry time, fellowship and a blessing. All in about 2 hours. That's what happens every Tuesday night (nearly) at Crusaders. It roots in the capacity of the senior leader to have confidence in his Destiny as a leader. He holds it lightly. He doesn't grasp. Yet, he stewards and nurtures those God has put in his way. It works.

I would that all fellowships were such. Most are not. I said the other day that it had been a long time since I came back from a Sunday morning service saying, "That was Awesome". Not so on Wednesday Mornings after a Tuesday Night like we had last night... AWESOME.

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