An Important Look into Your Church’s Culture – Part 2

In this series of blogs, we are focusing attention on the hardest places–churches that are seldom addressed in most of the church health literature. These are places where strong leaders seldom go, energetic people seldom stay, and new days simply don’t dawn. So, year after year, the pages of the church calendar find a way to be flipped, but stories of impact are primarily told elsewhere.

Now, my intent isn’t to depress, or even to offend. You may have engaged this second installment with hopefulness, having been drawn in by curiosity from our opening blog in hopes that answers are near at hand. My point in such a downer of a first paragraph is to let you know that you’re in a real place and somebody understands what it feels like to be there.

For some, it can be called a “culture of can’t.” This is where you find yourself when you start answering the ideas and suggestions of others with a well-rehearsed litany of why you can’t follow their advice. “We don’t have people to do that…” “We lack the resources to make that work…” “We tried that a few years ago…” “We have building issues that prevent us from that…” The list of statements that eliminate hope is quite a long one.

Well, here’s a news flash. You’re probably right! I’ve been to many churches stuck in this “culture of can’t” and these aren’t just excuses–they are realities. There are reasons why someone else’s programs and ideas won’t be as effective. There are things you don’t have people to do. There are ideas you simply can’t afford. Can’t means cannot–it’s not a form of will not or don’t wish we could. You can’t!

I’ve sat through my share of ministry idea sessions–led some of them too. And I know what can’t feels like. Unfortunately, when can’t has been your answer long enough, you start doubting if there’s anything you CAN do. And I think that’s a mistake. There’s always a “can” available, it just may not be as world-changing as you wish–at least not yet.

The first place to go looking for your “can” is in your own heart. What do you long to see? What do you want to do more than anything else? Why did you start down this whole ministry path anyway? You see, often the disappointments of can’ts or the feeling that I have to do what everyone else is doing can turn me from the path I was made to walk. And God has likely revealed at least a portion of that path in my heart, or through my life dreams.

I once asked a pastor what he’d do if he could do anything he wanted and his response was “to heal broken people.” Cool answer. When I pushed a bit harder, I learned that he had once been one of those and a small collection of senior saints had loved him to back to a healthy life. All he wanted to do was help people like that.

So when I asked if he thought his church could do that with him, he thought for a moment about the 32 people he’d been pastoring for 17 years and decided that he thought they could–and a “can” suddenly appeared in his otherwise bleak windshield. Now that was the first of many steps that needed to be taken (steps we’ll talk about in upcoming parts of this blog), but it was a critical step. We simply must find a meaningful “can” among all the broken pieces of past efforts.

Next time I’ll tell you where to start looking for yours…

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