#3. We must abandon the entitlement mentality. Your church is not a country club where you pay dues to get your perks and privileges. It is a gospel outpost where you are to put yourself last. Don’t seek to get your way with the music, temperature, and length of sermons. Here is a simple guideline: Be willing to die for the sake of the gospel. That’s the opposite of the entitlement mentality.
There are people who will complain if a one-time-a-week, one-hour-a-week, service runs over 5 minutes but are unwilling to die to self and serve Christ the other 167 hours of the week.
The church today is at a major crossroads and thanks to great writers like Thomas Rainer, we have the great opportunity to learn from those like him who see the needs in the church today and write about them well. To read the article I am commenting about you can click on the picture above or click the following link: Nine Changes We Must Make Or Die.
We have churches full of people who fundamentally misunderstand the application of agape love. Part of agape love is you are willing to allow injury or misfortune to yourself if it means uplifting someone else or pursuing discipleship making.
Pride and selfishness will be the two biggest sins for which God chastises His church. If you don't eradicate it from your midst there is only one place you will end up. You will go from care-taking to undertaking as you watch people leave and the doors will close.
We need churches that understand the biblical model for leadership. There is a reason why many younger pastors are switching churches often or leaving the ministry altogether. Those in the millennial age group who are pastors simply don't have the patience for beating our heads against that brick wall of the country club mentality for very long.
Millennial pastors understand agape love and practice it and just won't endure a situation where their biblically mandated authority is not respected and submitted to for very long. What you see in these situations is they will either cease pushing for growth or they will leave.
This similar type of situation fits church members in the millennial range. The reason so many churches that close are filled with older people and no younger people is they ran the younger crowd off with their refusal to let the millennials lead and millennials are very adaptive and will find a place where they can go to church. They want to go to church but won't stay in one that doesn't meet their needs.
The older generation has the "It's my church" mentality which is very destructive when it comes to the transition of leadership which has to occur in a church for it to remain healthy past the current population that will grow older and dies off. It will take humble servants of Christ to recognize this need and step to the side while new, younger leadership, steps up and moves the church forward.
This is why you see many churches growing to large numbers that are dominated by the under 50 age group and also why you see churches dominated by the over 50 age group closing.
So sad to think that roughly 200 churches could die on average in a week's time. However, the reasons for that closure are always consistent with some variation. It is truly sad to see but millennials have a great deal to bring to the table and they will find a place to use their talents and gifts.
One of the larger failures in the church is to utilize greater talent because the talent comes from someone that is not "in the group." This causes and halts growth to such a degree that many don't recover from it.
One of the things I saw when I lived near Raleigh, North Carolina as I studied websites is a huge shift towards getting those in the 30-50 age group in places of leadership and allowing them to lead and have what I refer to as "Freedom of Creative Control."
These churches are thriving. Doesn't mean that there are not people over 50 in places of leadership or that they are not being utilized. The difference is you have multiple generations serving alongside each other and if you have to lean one way or the other you lean younger. If you lean older or if you have a situation where older dominate the younger then you stifle your growth from the get-go.
The data is clear and yet we refuse to learn from history.
The same thing happens in churches that have had recent bouts with fundamentalism. Instead of adjusting correctly they go to the other extreme of not submitting to pastoral leadership at all and any effort by the pastor to exercise biblically mandated leadership is resisted as "fundamentalism." These that do this demonstrate a huge misunderstanding and misapplication of what fundamentalism truly is.
All of this is not to say that the older generation is not important and that they don't serve a very needed and specific function in the church. In fact, in most cases, they may very well serve in key leadership positions in the church up to and including the pastor. The key understanding here is where or who does the power centralize around? If it is centralized around a select few who have "paid their dues," then your church is doomed. If that power if mixed and spread across many people in many backgrounds, ages, and abilities then you can see your church grow.
Now, the ultimate authority in the church is Christ's for it is His church. He exercises His authority through His pastors (under-shepherds) to make direction-setting decisions, exercise oversight, and lead the church in a biblical manner. Any authority that a pastor exercises is really Christ's authority, it is merely delegated to the pastor while Christ is at the right hand of the father and not on earth directly exercising His authority. The thing to keep in mind from the pastor/elder role is that we are commanded to lead by example and not by compulsion and a true leader will see and understand the benefit from bestowing upon people as I call it, "The Power Of Creative Control."
However, even if the pastor is part of the older generation this does not prevent or keep the church from thriving or growing. It all comes down to how that pastor leads and how humble and willing the people are to allow for the change that will be necessary to see a vision implemented and find success.
While Rainer in his article wrote about many other things, I have decided to specifically zero in on his #3 bullet point today. Nobody in the church is entitled to anything. Everything we have is a gift of God's grace. God will not allow for anyone to take His place in the church as the ultimate authority in the church. It is Christ's church and even a pastor in and of himself doesn't have any real authority, for his authority comes from Christ and He is only exercising that authority under the sovereign reign of Jesus Christ. So, anyone who thinks that because of their status, tenure, money, or position gives them any right to dictate who things should be run is already starting out from the wrong place and is in error.
We are in a position where we could see the church really take off and grow to new heights but if we keep acting like the world and refusing to follow biblical models and principles for leadership we will end up ineffective or worse still, dead.
Rainer, Thomas. "Urgent Church: Nine Changes We Must Make Or Die." Thomas S. Rainer. Written March 27, 2017. Accessed December 30, 2017. http://thomrainer.com/2017/03/urgent-church-nine-changes-must-make-die/