Pete: I love being able to come here every week, don’t you?
John: I sure do. I look forward to it all week.
Pete: We have had some real good times fishing in this boat.
John: We sure have, I can remember fishing right over there and do you remember the time we were out here fishing and…It seems as though we never had a dry week back then. We always were blessed with catching fish.
Pete: Why, I remember when we had this place full of boats and God was blessing, giving us success and adding to the number of boats every week. Everybody was catching.
John: Yes and we learned a lot about fishing then too.
Pete: We did. I wonder what’s changed? (pause) Well, it’s time. We better head back and lock up the old boat. But I’ll see you out here next week – same time, same place.
John: I’ll be here. We’ll do it again.
Did you recognize this conversation? It is repeated over and over in churches around the nation every week. Only it is not about fish and boats. The conversations are about people and effective ministries. And always about the past, how good it used to be. Pete’s last question was, “I wonder what’s changed?”
Since researchers tell us that eighty to ninety percent of our churches in North America are plateaued or declining today, I would venture to say the organizational health of the church is one of the main changes we see. Organizational health has close ties to and incorporates spiritual health as well. I spend much of my time these days talking with and assisting some of these churches.
I agree with Patrick Lencioni that most organizations, churches included, focus on intelligence rather than the overall health of the organization. Through a series of discussions, reading assignments, and assessments many of the churches that I work with arrive at the understanding that the organizational health of the church is in dire need of adjustment and change. Those who make the necessary adjustments find relief and begin to implement strategies to turn around the health – spiritual and organizational health – of the church.
The spiritual health of the church must take priority in each situation and throughout the turnaround journey. One mistake many churches make is misinterpreting spiritual intellect for spiritual health. Information, facts and figures does not equate to spiritual health any more than having grocery store ads in the pantry equals food on the table.
Information, facts, and figures may bring knowledge and intellect, but not until you apply that knowledge in an effective manner will you see productive results. Effectual strategic planning bathed in prayer is required to produce positive, lasting results leading to spiritual and organizational health. The key ingredient for improvement and success is not knowledge or resources. The key ingredient is the health of the organizational environment.
In reality the real deficiency of declining or plateaued churches is not intellect or knowledge, but the lack of organizational health. A healthy organization has checks and balances, principles and values in place to assist in making healthy decisions. What are the true core values of your church? On which biblical principles do you operate as a church? Are those principles and values incorporated into all checks and balances in place? If so your church is a healthy, growing church. If your church is plateaued or declining then these three areas need serious consideration.
For more information on these three or on organizational health for your church contact George Yates and visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries for information and to order your copy of Reaching the Summit: Avoiding and Reversing Decline in the Church.