Tag Archive: church

Micro Shifts for Macro Ministry

Despite writing there were “no silver bullets” for churches, he still had me with the offering that there are “Micro-shifts that have the potential to produce macro-change in your church.”

Even for a guy that struggled through his micro and macro-economic courses, the idea intrigued me. Daniel Im has written a new book titled, No Silver Bullets and I wanted to explore one of his ideas here and I recommend you digging deeper with a full read of his book. For this blog, I try to write “Practical takeaways for everyday church leadership” and I think Daniel does the same in No Silver Bullets. It comes from a place via Daniel of deep experience in the local church and deep love for the local church.

In Im’s first chapter, “From Destination to Direction” he begins to build a case for how churches go about the maturing of disciples. He provides a practical influence matrix and as a part of working through this idea Im describes four different church personas…

  1. The Copy Cat Church
  2. The Silver Bullet Church
  3. The Hippie Church
  4. And the Intentional Church

Just from these persona titles, most of us have already identified which one our church is and which one we’d like to be. As you’d imagine, Im aptly provides habits and cultural ethos for each of these church personas. And truth be told, I see parts of each of these personas in the one I serve. In fact, there were part of Im’s descriptions that were uncomfortable for me to read.

Because Im’s writing is better than mine, and because to fully understand the content, you need the full context (his book). Here, I’m going to simply poach one idea in hopes it will cause you to reflect. Perhaps reflection that leads to a deeper dive of No Silver Bullets.

The Copy Cat Church

While not my proudest season of life, there was a time I “copy catted.” Better said, I cheated. Bottom line, I was convinced others were smarter than me; and there was no reason to have command of content myself when someone smarter already had it and I could just “borrow” it.

I had pretty complex systems for attaining this borrowed content. It involved money, people, dark cafeterias and code words (HBO is considering making a show based on my adolescent enterprise). And you know what, my system allowed me to make the passing grade I needed to begin my baseball season. But when the teacher decided to create two varying tests, well, my enterprise ended, and so did my baseball season.

In churches, our motives are probably not sinful. And in most cases our intentions are to just take our churches further, faster. One justification…we don’t know when Christ will return, and we don’t want to be found investigating or learning our own way when there’s an already developed and proven idea at the church across the city.

“Borrowing” in Church

In fact, our digital world allows us to view and understand content in new ways and this world allows a collaborative approach. Sharing is the new normal and there’s some great benefits to the collaboration and borrowing.

Yet, for churches, we must proceed carefully. No doubt, using the copycat method for your church allows for speed. Which is efficient, but it won’t always be better. It takes away the discovery and discernment that we need to walk through as church leaders when considering shifts in our ministries.

The other church’s version may be prettier and quicker, but what you don’t know is what it took to build their model. You don’t know what shortfalls they’ve experienced. If you pray, ask the hard questions and seek alignment with decision makers, and it still make sense to copy some, or all of another church’s way, then go for it (but no breaking of copyright laws).

But once a copycat, always a copycat? A new borrowed concept works for a while, but then it stalls or we get bored, so we look for the next thing to copycat. We feel we need a new way to provide an injection of growth into our church. Im writes, “They [copycat churches] move from one model to the next…and is convinced they are only one model away from breakthrough.”

So, if you’re tempted to “borrow,” I suggest slowing down and doing your due diligence. And if you need help with some questions and framework to tackle the larger issues of the church, then Im’s book can help, but remember, there’s no silver bullet.

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Visiting Another Church? 6 Ways To Avoid Comparing


If you serve at a church, you’ve probably experienced the temptation to judge other churches.

You’re away on vacation or visiting your in-laws (notice that I don’t believe visiting in-laws is a vacation), and you decide to go to church. You arrive at the church with the intention of worshipping God, but you end up comparing.

  • You compare their church services to your church services.
  • You compare their practices to your church’s practices.
  • You compare their pastor to your pastor. (I’ve blogged about what I call church leader jealously syndrome.)
  • You compare their child security to your child security.
  • You compare their music and production quality to your church’s music and production quality.

These comparisons may lead to a sense of pride, or they may lead to coveting. You either self-righteously think God has blessed your church more than theirs, or you perceive a gap in what they have versus what you have. Whatever your conclusion, it doesn’t lead to worshipping God.

It leads to judging. And it’s not your job.

The Apostle Paul critiqued several churches, and James critiqued his own church in Jerusalem. Even Jesus critiqued seven famous (infamous) churches. But when they did this, they were dealing with sin issues. They weren’t judging the production of a worship service, or the cleanliness and security of the childcare rooms.

You’ve got 60-90 minutes to be there. You can use it engaging God, or engaging in the comparison game.  One choice pleases God.

I know firsthand that it’s not easy to turn off your staff minister mindset, so I have some simple things that help minimize the comparison distraction.

Practical takeaways to avoid comparison while visiting other churches:

1. Pray in advance, specifically for the Spirit to help you focus on God and not on other things.

2. Arrive just in time. Waiting in common areas or in your seat allows idle time for critical eyes to search out a church’s inadequacies.

3. Worship in a denomination different than yours —it’s easier not to judge when you’re not comparing apples to apples.

4. Don’t peruse or pick up their church collateral or bulletin. You’re there only once, and you really don’t need to know their purpose statement or what they’re serving at their Wednesday night meal. Reading bulletins and brochures almost always leads to comparing.

5. Celebrate the differences they have in worship practices.

6. Throughout the whole experience, ask yourself – “What is God trying to teach me?”  instead of “What can I take away as transferable to my church?”)

Unless you’re a paid church consultant, stay away from the comparing game. Most often, it tempts you to break the tenth commandment, and it keeps you from worship that’s pleasing to God.


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