Highly effective churches have some common traits. Identifying them would help some churches that are struggling to focus their energies productively. Instead of simply doing the same old things on the same old schedules in the same old way, perhaps they could try a few new things and get a better result.
After all, didn’t somebody say the definition of insanity is doing the same things in the same ways and expecting a different outcome?
A church will be propelled either by precedent, personality, power, or purpose.
Precedent-driven churches have as their operative formula: This is the way we always do things here.
Personality-driven churches thrive on the dreams and creativity of a central leader who has special gifts. Assuming the purest of motives and a Christ-focused agenda, the obvious limitation in such churches is the unlikelihood that their growth and effectiveness will survive the death or move of that leader.
Power-driven churches are unhealthy places where the worldly game of win-lose is played out in the name of Jesus. Some person or family within the church pushes people around, coerces conformity, and drives it according to a human agenda. A common phrase used in this setting: “We’ll leave if you do that…”
Most of these churches wind up having fights that lead to church splits – always masked as “doctrinal divisions” in order to justify the abusive things the disputants say about and do to one another.
A purpose-driven church, on the other hand, can survive the pitfalls just identified.: “Because it looks forward rather than backward, the fact that “we’ve never done it that way before” need not hamstring justifiable innovations. Because its vision is larger than any one person’s genius, it can not only survive a death or move but continue forging ahead to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Because it has embraced a kingdom mentality in which the willingness to wash feet supersedes anyone’s desire to be a church boss, power plays of the sort people witness in the world are altogether out of place.”