10 Barriers to Disciplemaking, Part 10 (Power Structures and Changing Culture)

Aubrey Malphurs lists ten major barriers that churches are facing as they strive to make disciples. This series of blogs examines these ten components. Here’s the list again:

  1. Lack of vision;
  2. Lack of outreach and passion;
  3. Congregations not willing to change;
  4. Lack of leadership-intentional leader training;
  5. Lack of prayer;
  6. Lack of unity;
  7. Congregation too comfortable;
  8. Little ownership of mission/purpose;
  9. Resistant power structures;
  10. Church unwilling to adapt to a changing culture.

My previous post looked at “no mission or purpose.”  We now focus on the last two, resistant power structures and unwilling to adapt to a changing culture.

Who has the power to make decisions and changes in your church? Pastor and staff? Church Council? Board?  Congregation? Deacons? Power Brokers?

For some churches it is a combination of all of these. Most Baptist churches are congregational in their polity therefore major decisions are approved by the entire congregation.

Once I served a church where we needed to go to two worships but by the time we worked the details through the leadership and jumped through all the hoops, we had lost the window of opportunity. Some decisions should rest with church leaders and key teams or committees and some with the entire congregation. The gray matter in the middle is what usually gets churches in trouble. Pastors and staff have been called and equipped to lead churches in ministry and programs. They must be empowered to do just that. At the same time there must be some accountability and trust on both sides.

The second obstacle is not adapting to a changing culture. In some ways these two relate because culture change does impact how we structure and make decisions. Churches need to be open to change in methodology and structure particularly when t those changes can enhance the kingdom. We cannot keep doing the same old things.

Business as usual is illustrated by the downfall of huge segments of the American auto industry. Make no mistake, we do not compromise to the culture but we need to understand the culture in order to engage the culture with the Gospel. When missionaries are sent into a new country or people group they study the culture in order to better share the Gospel and minister. Many churches have failed to study the culture in which they exist and have become bastions of sameness and ineffectiveness.

“To bury our heads in the sand and hope the 50’s or 60’s or 70’s or 80’s or 90’s will return is a waste of good sand!”

To reach people today we must retool, do new things, and carefully study the culture so we are better prepared and focused.

Technology, communication, music genres, learning, methodologies have all changed and are continuing to change.

The good ole days are gone.  These are the good ole days of the future.

The Gospel is relevant.

The Bible is still and will always be true.

People need a personal relationship with Christ.

We are in the world but not of it, and so we must seek the Lord and discover new, innovative ways of reaching this culture, this generation for Christ.

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