Effective Churches Think Differently
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. . .
The way that we think is important because it is our thinking that affects our actions. The way in which we think comprises our attitude. Good attitudes lead to better decisions and healthier decisions. Churches also have attitudes that we often refer to as a “church culture.” Like individuals, congregations as a group have corporate attitudes. What is the attitude of your church? How does your congregation think?
Some years ago, one of my peers in a neighboring state studied the thinking of churches in his region. For the purpose of this study effective churches were defined as those who were experiencing growth in membership. He found eleven distinctive attitudes that were clearly opposite from the corporate attitudes in churches that were plateaued or declining.
You should note that the congregations had much in common. They were Baptist Churches, with small group ministries that generally met prior to worship, and provided the typical ministries and programs you would associate with a Southern Baptist congregation. While the programming and ministries were similar, some were growing while others were not. What was the difference? It was not the style or the programming. It was the mentality of the congregation.
I took one other step in examining these attitudes. I connected the scriptural basis for the attitudes. How does your church think? Here are the first six distinctions:
(E= Corporate attitude in effective churches & I= Corporate attitude in ineffective churches)
E- There was a consistent mention of prayer and its role in personal and church growth.
Prayer was strategic.
I- Prayer was not mentioned. Note that prayer occurred in the life of these churches during worship, offertories, Wednesday nights, times of crisis, etc. However, it was not intentional or strategic like in effective
Friendliness and Inclusion
E- Members had a consciousness that newcomers need help in order to break into a new group.
I- Their level of friendliness was strong and intentional to one another, but passive to outsiders.
View of Evangelism
E- Evangelism was seen as the responsibility of each member and was expected to be taken seriously. Evangelism was described in relational terms.
I- The responsibility for evangelism was assigned exclusively to staff and pastors.
Evangelism was described primarily in institutional and programming terms.
View of their Community
E- The perception was that there were many in the community to be reached and members were equipped in personal evangelism.
I- The perception was that the community was made of people already churched and/or people who had already made up their minds.
E- a) The best days for the church are yet to come.
- b) All problems are solvable.
- c) Optimism dominated.
I-Our best days were in the past (“Do you remember when. . . “)
More next week…