When a Church Changes Directions Too Often

My family and I were still learning our way around the church campus. It had been a few weeks into our new assignment, and we were heading back to the other side of the building to get in the truck and drive home. Somewhere along the way, I started quickening my pace to see if my kids could keep up.

Don’t tell anyone, but the new pastor and his kids might have been running down the hallway before it was all said and done. :/

Since additional buildings have been merged together through the years, the campus has some unique twists and turns along the way. I turned to the right and then to the left, and my distance from the kids started to grow. At some point, the giggles quieted down and I stopped. Somewhere in the distance, I faintly heard, “Ummm, Dad? Where are you?”

My kids had gotten lost on the church campus because their Pastor Dad took too many turns too quickly along the way. What a vivid illustration of what can happen for a church’s direction as well!

A church will have a difficult time following its leaders if they are constantly changing directions.

“Let’s head over in this direction…sidestep to the left…vision change over to the right…slow down…speed up…start this initiative…lack of follow through…check out this new book…how about this book that contradicts the last book…heard something great at a conference…new agenda…”

And so on it goes.

Many churches are willing to be led, but they simply can’t keep up with the constant directional changes. For a while, they can see the pastor in front, but after so many rapid and sudden shifts, they are unsure of his current location. Without the leader setting a steady, consisten pace in front, the church gets confused, frustrated, disappointed, or even scared.

While we all must be open to the Spirit’s leading and adjusting along the way, we reveal that we miss his leading at some point if we are constantly altering the agreed-upon path. We run the risk of using God’s name in vain as we attach his name to our plans. Surely we wouldn’t neglect to finish something God wanted us to complete?

In the task of making disciples, do we honestly need to make such radical shifts every so many months? Can we not just stick to the basics?

As a pastor, I am constantly thinking of how to improve. I have more ideas than I have time. Sometimes, my church doesn’t need a new idea as much as follow-through on the last idea.

Jesus taught the importance of counting the cost when it comes to following Him (Luke 14:26-33). There should be some adequate thought and preparation put into following Jesus before jumping in haphazardly. We are called to be steadfast in the work of the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58). Sometimes we don’t reap in the ministry because we give up on the task right before the harvest is about to come (Gal. 6:9). Just let your “yes” be “yes” (Matt. 5:37) and stick with whatever you have committed to.

I often hear those trying to lead in a church bemoan the fact that the people aren’t following them. That could be the people’s fault. But it could be the fault of the leadership as well.

Maybe the church isn’t following the leadership because the leadership isn’t maintaining a reliable pace and direction.

When a church changes directions too often, they are often unable to finish what they started. The people are scattered. Varying agendas exist. Fractioning directions have been set.

Make a plan. Stick to it. If you want those behind you to keep up, make sure you keep running in a consistent direction.