It seems understandable for a church to take the leap from Step 1 (Hubris) to Step 2. When your organization realizes great success, and you arrogantly attribute that gain as something you deserve, the church leadership starts to think they can do anything.
That’s why Step 2 is the “undisciplined pursuit of more”. More what? Everything!
Churches (as well as individual Christians) exhibit this in two ways: 1) they fall into the trap of materialism and 2) they pursue growth faster than they should.
Sadly, materialism has crept into the Church like it has in Americans and Canadians. The economic disasters of the last year hopefully have taught us a huge lesson. Even back in the book of James (chapter 5) cautions us of hoarding and accumulating wealth. “The love of money is the root of all evil” is another favorite verse in the Bible. Money isn’t the issue, it’s the hoarding and love of money that is the downfall.
God has been working with me in the last few months about how much “stuff” I have. We have boxes of things that we’ve never opened and many items that aren’t used but sit on the shelf collecting dust. A quick look in our cupboards and refrigerator says we are spoiled! Often, I’ve been quick to say “how blessed” we are to have so much. Perhaps we should say how it demonstrates our sinfulness rather than our blessing. Ouch.
Just as we often confuse wealth as a sign of spiritual wellness, the Church can also equate “big” with “great”. God doesn’t always want huge churches, He just wants healthy spiritual growth. This sometimes leads to larger churches, but the goal of a Church shouldn’t be “large”.
When a Church pursues getting big when there are obvious concerns with leadership or congregation, it’s a sure sign of Step 2. I’m not saying growth is a bad sign, I’m saying that the undisciplined pursuit of “huge” is the concern!
Step 2 also has leadership issues. “How the Mighty Fall” points out that as organizations grow and pursue more and more, often the wrong people end up in key leadership roles.
I believe this is an issue in the Church too. Take a look at the key people who are managing and directing the major ministry sectors in your church. Are they the right people? Do they have a heart for the Lord and understand the core principles of your church? Do they support the Senior Leadership with loyalty and are they willing to do whatever it takes to make the church great? ?Having “yes” people in key leadership roles is having the “wrong” people.
In order for a Church to grow, it requires the right people to handle responsibilities. These leaders need to be held responsible for accomplishing certain goals. Sadly, in the church, leadership don’t even have goals and a vision.
According to his book, Jim Collins observes that during this second step, Leadership succession issues arise. He shows that for organizations not actively training and preparing people to take these key roles, failure is inevitable.
It seems so obvious. However, to some extent, we all “explain away” these issues in the Church and don’t fix them. We just try to grow in other areas. It’s like building a mansion on the wrong foundation. All together now, “The foolish man built his house upon the sand…”