Why the Church Should Fear Complacency


Complacency: a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better. 

Churches, more than any organization on the planet, should always be seeking to improve. The message of the gospel is timeless, but the need to connect with and reach people, the need to improve the quality of the ministry and the need to lead Christians to productively serve in kingdom work must constantly be improved!  It’s worth investing in and working on.  The ministry and the role of the church in the lives of people has limitless potential.

Complacency in a church leads to some serious issues:

1) Too Easily Satisfied

Three words I always struggle with in ministry:  contentment, comfort, and satisfaction. Though we want to be content in our roles and the mission field we are given, we have an obligation to see what needs to be improved and changed.  We must, to some degree, be unsatisfied with the way things are in order to help bring about what could be. We must be comfortable with a culture in our ministry of trying to improve, grow and figure out ways to reach people.  But we can’t become satisfied the way we are as an organization.  In a recent staff meeting, we asked where each leader was dissatisfied.  If you want to get some conversation going, ask that question!  The end result was focused, however, on knowing that we needed to move to what could be.  I would rather have someone thinking they wanted to improve than someone who thought things were great as is.  Someone in the church must look at things from this angle.

2) No Longer Willing to Change to Reach People

A church must be pliable – able to change.  The goal and mission of the church is to make disciples.  If, for some reason, this has ceased to happen, changes must be made.  Changes in worship styles or times, changes in outreach, changes in vision, changes in communication may be a few. Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.

3) No Longer Teachable

When the leaders and congregation are no longer teachable, complacency has set in.  The most effective church responds to the teaching of Jesus, lives out the call, and is constantly trying to improve its ministry. Church leaders – of all sizes of churches should invest in personal development, leadership training, and other conferences and seminars. If you’re reading this today and haven’t had time to sit and learn from someone recently, go sign up for something and attend it.  Be teachable.  Learn how you can improve your ministry.

4) Transformation is No Longer the Primary Motivation for Reaching People

When the church began it was to help people grow close to Christ.  The church was founded and started by people who had a passion for helping lives be transformed in the power of Jesus.  Now, the primary motivation is to get more members, increase funds, possibly maintain an image, keep up with another church or relive the past.  None of these should be the primary reason for reaching people – it will backfire.

5) Decisions Based on What is Easiest, Not What is Best.

When major decisions begin being based on what is easiest and most efficient rather than what is best for the church, mission and kingdom, we have started floating. Church leaders should look for ways to make simple things easier, but ministry is difficult and decisions we make in light of the overall mission of making disciples will often require some hard work. Make a decision on what is best.

If you have grown complacent for a season, do something about it!  Retreat, sharpen, pray, focus, grow, learn, attend a conference, meet with key leaders and confess, do something!  It’s the job of the leader to pinpoint the reality of the church, organization, or ministry team and take the needed steps to turn around.

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