Seven Best Practices For Derailing Your Church’s Missional Progress

Believe and act as if funding (money) is your church’s top priority.
There are many well-heeled churches who have closed their doors. There are very few spiritually vitalized congregations who have closed their doors. To derail your church’s progress become the broken record voice – loudly, consistently, and insistently remind people that you don’t have enough money to do whatever is being proposed. Often you will succeed in dampening enthusiasm, dispiriting others, and quaffing any real attention to the Spirit’s movement. As you know, anxiety around money is powerful, especially for the generations who endured the Great Depression and now the Recent Recession.

Rather than speak directly to your church leadership when you have a concern, criticize them informally, using the church grapevine.
We understand that direct communication actually resolves concerns. So, avoid this practice at all costs. Instead sow seeds of suspicion and doubt, while ramping up rumors. The church grapevine grows quickly, so this strategy will take little effort. Small comments, placed strategically in timing and place, will grow quickly into full-blown attacks – especially when the congregation is already on-edge due to the vitalization work underway. You will undermine the ministries of your pastor and church staff, while derailing missional progress.

Relate to your church from a position of fear and anxiety.
This will help influence the church to be a withholding, hesitant, overly-cautious, anxious bunch…exactly at the time it needs to practice faith, courage, generosity, and boldness. Spew your fear and anxiety randomly, to anyone who will give you the time of day. You will demoralize some, alienate others, and frustrate those who are working for positive movement. Use any issue you can (social issues, Muslim growth in America, anger toward Millenials, demise of church culture, etc.) to sow fear. “Be afraid, be very, very afraid.” Make this your mantra, repeating it as often as possible. This will distract people from God’s power, focusing them on the giants in the land. Before you know it, your church’s progress will be paralyzed. This is what large doses of fear do – paralyze progress.

When the leadership and congregation make decisions, continue to lobby and politic for another course of action.
Keep pursuing your agenda, even though decisions have been made using the appropriate processes. Don’t ever get on board with the collective discernment of a team or the church as a whole. This best practice is especially effective when you were one of the team members making the decision. Whisper to others that you really weren’t for the outcome, suggesting that the vote on this decision was very close, meaning the church leadership must be divided. Or, if you are assertive enough, before the report about the decision is given, tell everyone you and others really don’t believe it’s the best thing for your church. This will contribute to dissension, helping undermine trust in leadership and church decisions. Keep lobbying for the opposite to what was decided. Never give up!

Maintain the delusion that the church is all about you.
Your preferences, your convenience, your happiness and contentment…try to maintain the view that the church’s purpose is to cater to you. When worship leaders and teachers surface the idea that the church is one of God’s instruments meant to transform the world, including your self-centeredness, DO NOT LISTEN. Do not believe that stuff. Think of yourself as a consumer – you are there to get, not to give or be transformed. Clutch your consumer identity as vigorously as you can. Ignore their calls to lay down your life. Ask not what you can do for God through your church, ask what the church can do for you. This is certainly a best practice for stopping missional progress. It’s effectiveness has been tested and proven over and over.

Periodically, but consistently, threaten to leave.
Remember, we are a transient culture, with high mobility lifestyles. Combine the consumer mindset with a hyper-individualism and you are ready to leave your church at the drop of a hat. You can find another one down the street. When you threaten to leave, you will raise anxiety among lay and called leadership. Maybe this will remind them to cater to you, rather than work for revitalization of spirit focused on God’s mission in the world. Caution – don’t use this strategy too much or after a while they won’t take you seriously. Be smart and strategic.

Cultivate an overall perspective of negativity.
“Yes, but…” is a great phrase. Constantly point out how any idea or initiative raised for missional progress has a down side; a really big down side. Exagerate the risks as much as possible. Don’t hold back. Rampantly spew negativity. You may be able to poison the well. Your toxicity is powerful, so don’t underestimate its corrosive effects. Church people are so focused on loving and accepting others…typically they will allow people like you to say anything almost anytime. Use this to your advantage. Negativity can drain the life out of most any group, with churches being especially vulnerable to this.

Watch for next week’s e-news on Seven Best Practices for Advancing Your Church’s Missional Progress

Mark Tidsworth, President, PLA