Ecclesial Sabotagology – Part 1

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cathedral entryway

– the fine art of church suicide-

“My word… I now know for certain. My church has lost its collective mind…” – Bob, the cowboy commentator and church consultant

My friend Bob looked up from reading the blog on his laptop. He pulled off his reading glasses with some drama as he does when miffed (an effective technique – you might consider picking up a pair of spectacles whether you need them or not).

Bob explained his ‘Mad-as-a-hornet, can’t take any more’ response.

He wasn’t one bit negative. Deep love and pain were emerging.

“I’ve always thought when someone takes their own life that they are out of their mind – at least at that moment. Maybe this holds true for groups when they do the same…”

Bob’s words hung in the air – like a slow-moving indoor cloud hovering in the room. Bob spoke a drop-dead amazing truth.

One thing is certain – 100% of the innumerable groups who succeeded in a suicide attempt – not one was thinking clearly at the moment of the ultimate deed.

Is there a pattern that leads up to a church or a spiritual movement to self-destruct? Ponder these common patterns that lead up to what lemmings do each spring.

•Celebrating The Tragedy of Others… other leaders/churches!

“They finally got what was coming them/him/her. Yep, God got ‘em good. You can’t fool Him…”

If you haven’t thought this or said it you likely aren’t thinking back hard enough. Human nature makes such behavior tendencies natural to us all. Call it “The Martha Stewart Effect.” She goes to prison without protesting the initial sentence dished out to her. Amazingly, the vast majority of Americans decided they hated Martha – they decided to enthusiastically believe the worst about her. There is something particularly savory about believing the worst about those who have been highly successful in life. This goes double for the leaders of large churches. ‘They are large because they are doing something that’s not kosher…’ (No names here please…)

Recommend: Start praying for a church each week like this, “God we ask you to bless this other church today – we ask you to profoundly touch them today more than us…”

•Church Suicide Comes From The Passive Condoning of Toxic Attitudes

Rarely will leaders in the local church clearly say aloud what is as negative as what is carried about in the heart? “We really don’t like people who aren’t like us…” Who in their right mind would cop to that?… especially official leaders. Yet can you explain how it is that great public efforts are taken to increase attendance yet the ‘backdoor’ siphons more out than in?

Recommend: If you are one who speaks or has a voice into the leadership, be candid about your heart. Fear keeps us stuck and away rather than toward people. To like people is more costly than to love people very often!

•Church Suicide Begins With Bombastic Attitudes

“We really are all that – and more!” No comment necessary.

Recommend: Pray with an honest, open heart. Start with confessions. When God shows up honesty tends to happen.

Bob never told me what upset him that day. That wasn’t the point. He loves his heritage. Even more, he loves the Church at large – as do I on both points. Maybe we are on the same boat as it works in fellowship.

Steve has spoken, mentored and modeled to churches and leaders around the world with the simple message that anyone – regardless of their gifting or experience – can be involved in bringing God’s loving kindness to others. His first book, Conspiracy of Kindness has been translated into several languages with more in the works. His first book has sold over 300,000 copies. Altogether his books have sold over 500,000 copies.