6 Mistakes Irrelevant Churches Make

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Has your church become irrelevant? (Stock Free Images)

"Everybody wants to be relevant. We want to be relevant personally. We want to be relevant in our businesses." —Rick Warren

I agree with Pastor Rick's words from a recent TED talk. No one purposefully wants to become irrelevant, and neither does a church. So how does a once-thriving, prevailing church suddenly become irrelevant? When you inspect it closely, it was not a sudden transition at all. There were warning signs.

After close inspection, the following list of six mistakes irrelevant churches make comes to the forefront:

1. Irrelevant churches make the mistake of resisting change. Gen. Erick Shinseki says, "If you don't like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less." To support Gen. Shinseki's comments, the last 10 words of a dying church are "We've never done it that way before. We're not changing."

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2. Irrelevant churches make the mistake of having a false sense of security. Irrelevance must be combated with diligence. "Irrelevance could never happen to us" proclaim many church leaders. However, the natural default mode of every church is to drift toward comfort and irrelevance. Carey Nieuwhof said at the recent Orange Conference, "Irrelevance is always subtle but inevitable."

3. Irrelevant churches make the mistake of ignoring the next generation. Irrelevance was also be combated with intentionality. Nieuwhof went on to add, "If you're a leader and you're over 40, you're going to have to work to stay relevant, and you're going to have to work to stay around young leaders."

4. Irrelevant churches make the mistake of ignoring their changing communities. Warren goes on to add, "When the speed of change around an organization is faster than the speed of change within the organization, the organization becomes irrelevant." In the North Atlanta area where I live, there are dozens of former urban mega- and super-megachurches that are dying because their communities became multicultural while they remained a homogenous Caucasian congregation. The speed of the community changed faster than the speed of the church.

5. Irrelevant churches make the mistake of not taking risks. In Ed Catmull's phenomenal book Creativity, Inc., he observes, "Being too risk-averse causes many companies to stop innovating and to reject new ideas, which is the first step on the path to irrelevance." The same is true with churches.

6. Irrelevant churches make the mistake of thinking they have more time. Are your services programmed to reach your changing community and next generation? Churches must target the next generation. They must be green and growing. If not, your decline toward irrelevance is accelerating. Warren concludes, "Everything is getting faster ... nothing is slowing down. The tendency towards irrelevance is much faster than it was 10 years ago."

So I ask you, after reading the six mistakes irrelevant churches make, is your church in danger of becoming irrelevant?  If so, what are you prepared to do to reverse this decline?

Brian Dodd's daytime job is as a generosity architect and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. During the last 10+ years, he has spent each day having one-on-one conversations with many of the greatest church leaders in America. He also also has over 25 years of church volunteer and staff experience. Check out his blog, Brian Dodd on Leadership.

For the original article, visit briandoddonleadership.com.

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