Friday, May 06, 2011

10ST - Copycat Church

10ST is an ongoing series digging into Geoff Surratt's Ten Stupid Things that Keep Churches from Growing and how those stupid things keep youth ministries from growing as well.
Taking anything out of context is always a risky endeavor. Perfectly worded phrases in one book become nebulous mantras in another, devoid of the clarity that once was present. Appropriate attire for one occasion becomes awkward and even out of line for another. Best practices of one organization become the unexamined tradition of another.

In the church, this is stupid. We simply can't expect what God is doing in one place to function identically in another. Just because Rick Warren wears Hawaiian shirts on the West Coast doesn't mean the masses will come flocking to me in West Nebraska.
Yes, I know the shirts really have nothing to do with anything, it's just an example. If we copy some growing church or youth ministry's methods, programs, strategies, etc. without putting in the same thought, prayer, analysis, study, and more prayer that they put in prior to adopting those methods, we're short circuiting the real process by which God has caused the growth. We'll be left with a shell that looks similar in structure, with no turtle inside! No heart or soul.

But the power of a growing church isn't in their programs or strategies. Look around at the diversity of growing ministries and it's easy to see that there are a lot of ways to get things done. What works in one place isn't necessarily going to work in another.

We also need to realize that even copying our own church of 10 or 20 or 30 years ago is just as stupid. In youth ministry, the curve may be even steeper. I feel like I need to be constantly re-inventing and evaluating just about everything I do in ministry. 5 years ago, the group that I primarily work with looked incredibly different than the group today. 5 years from now, the shapers and leaders of our student ministry will be gone. New students will have taken their places and the ministry will need to take on new shapes and forms and strategies in order to continue to grow.

The counter-side is important to note also: don't just refuse to do something because it wasn't your idea first. That kind of pride & vanity will cause their own set of problems, but don't just copy another church or ministry. 

Don't even just copy your past.

Look for what God is doing in the people of your ministry. Where is He pushing? Where is He going? Seek His direction with desperation and equip your people to follow His unique lead.

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