I recently came across this post by Bill Easum (Bill Easum's Post) on the top 6 tactical mistakes a chruch can make. I thought I would share my responses in hope you might join the conversation. Please go and read his post first so that you can get his opinions unfiltered.
Now granted, I cannot match the years of experience and expertise Bill has and won't attempt to compete with his observations by making ones of my one. They are what they are. But I feel the need to ask, "Is this true?" or "Does this make sense in my experience, limited thought it may be?"
So off we go...
Mistake 1: Amen! I'm glad to hear this expressed beyond our Evangelism and Church Growth Office in Louisville. We have this discussion daily. In my opinion, if the church can bring evangelism and social justice back together, then the church can start being the church again. However, I think the emergent conversation is broader and more complicated then the issues of evangelism and social justice. Ecclesiology has a big part of that conversation as well.
Mistake 2: I completely agree and would add that it not only has the potential to fail to get the worship service off to a energetic beginning but can and does alienate visitors. The same goes for prolonged sharing of joys and concerns. I have long encouraged open sharing of joys and concerns, but care must be taken not to allow it to be so prolonged and in depth that those who are new may disconnect.
Mistake 3: Looking back on the church plant I started, I wish I had hired a worship leader first. Instead we hired a Director of Christian Education. Not a horrible call but certainly our worship experience, which was one of the first glimpses a new person got of our new faith community, could have been greatly enhanced by a hired worship leader. I don't agree that it should be the first hire in every new church or growing church looking to expand staff. So much of church planting and church growth is contextual. i think it's an over-generalization to declare "one size fits all." Each church should look at it's ministry and determine for itself which first hire it. Where one church may need a music leader, another may need a social worker, volunteer coordinator, etc. Hire who you need to hire to be the church (and reach the ones) God has called you to be (and reach).
Mistake 4: Hmmm. I have wrestled with this often. I would need to know if Bill means a personal, face to face visit, phone call, or email. (All this is assuming they leave their contact information...those first time visitors are well aware of our tactics and may choose to remain anonymous!) First, email doesn't seem too personal. Although it would work for me (as a first time visitor), others may find it too impersonal. I think much of that depends on the age of the person and their church experience. So I'm guessing it's one of the first two. Of those, I would humbly suggest that a well timed phone call would be best to "feel out" whether or not they might receptive to a visit. Here's where it pays to know your community. For an unchurched person, having the pastor show up to visit might be unwelcome whereas someone having grown up in the church might fully expect the pastor to show and if that does not happen, they feel unwelcome. So, are you dealing with mostly unchurched people? Maybe most families are dual income and spend their days working and their evenings shuttling kids to and fro while trying to get dinner ready. Is it a retirement community where there is potentially more time for face to face interaction? Finally what expectations do you create when the Pastor is the first to show up? How will that impact how you do pastoral care and future interactions? These are not light questions especially for a growing, vital church.
Mistake 5: I would be interested in know how he came to this conclusion. While this may be true, I would want a staff that can do what needs to be done regardless of their 'specialty." Maybe this a "jack of all trades, master of none" conversation. I remember a football coach encouraging me to quit band and focus on athletics because "while I could be good at both, i could only be great at one." I disagreed. I would suggest that volunteers need to be focused and specific. I fear that such specialized staff might slip into creating "kingdoms" unto themselves over and against the vision and direction of the church. The more investment staff have in the interconnectedness of the whole ministry and their role in making that happen, the more fully the vision will be pursued. My $.02.
Mistake 6: That's certainly possible but if that were the case, let's set the retirement age at 40. The problem may be more about the relational skills of our pastors than their age. For the majority of my response here, I would echo what I said about knowing your community and who you are trying to reach. That's probably more important than a general age of the person visiting new people.
So, What's your take?