Listen to the Right People

A big mouth doesn’t always equal an effective mouth

Photo by sroemerm via Flickr (Creative Commons)

One thing I’ve noticed happening in Christian-land these days is that there are a lot of voices saying quotable things about stuff they have no clue about.

The biggest one, something I’d label a pet peeve, is people who have successfully planted a megachurch trying to teach people in existing churches how to change their church culture.

It’s all a big misunderstanding.

Let’s face this one reality– A guy who planted a church and it grew to 10,000+ members cannot possibly help a 100 year old church of 300 who is struggling. Nor can they help a church plant that started in a house with 25 people and has grown to 200. Or a church that was once 1000 but is now 85.

Let’s face a second reality– If a person is a wonderful communicator of biblical truth they are not likely a prophet to your struggling ministry. They don’t know a single solitary thing about your situation. Nada, zip, zilch. If you had the chance to meet them they might tell you the same thing. They are probably impressed with what God does through their ministry, too. But that doesn’t mean squat to your church context.

Do take their words of encouragement personally. But let’s face it, they don’t know how to fix your church.

Should I try to change my church?

Of course! Just make sure, when you need advice, you listen to people who have actually done what you are trying to do.


3 responses to “Listen to the Right People”

  1. Richard Jones Avatar
    Richard Jones

    Adam, this is a brilliant post! I think you have cut through a ton of the noise going on in Christian circles right now. I am going to circulate this to our church leadership. But here’s a question to stretch the conversation: how do your points in this post inform NYWC? How do you guys at YS avoid having people on the platform telling us how to do things who have no concept of what life is like in our churches?

  2. adam mclane Avatar

    “If you had the chance to meet them they might tell you the same thing. They are probably impressed with what God does through their ministry, too.”

    I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to meet many of our big room speakers and nearly all of our seminar presenters over the last two years. I really believe this statement to be true. In every instance that I’ve gotten to chat with our speakers their heart is always to encourage and challenge. And, I think, all of them would be quick to tell you in conversation to contextualize everything.

    I’ve sat on this blog post for about a year because I didn’t want anyone to think it was either a bash on NYWC or a bash on a specific speaker. It’s not! (At least not intended to)

    I love our event, I love the challenges it addresses and the stuff we train people for… but at the same time I hope our attendees leave challenged to figure it out in their context. Of course, part of that process is hearing from a lot of people and having to wade through some strong opinions and bits of advice as well as reading still more perspectives and taking the time to praying.

    It does openly scare me when I hear people say, “I didn’t know what to do about this situation, but ____ said ____ and now I know exactly what to do.” Instead, I hope to hear, “I was thinking about quitting and that this wasn’t all worth it. But after hearing ____ I feel affirmed in my calling and I’m going to rededicate my life to pursuing the dreams God has laid on my heart.”

  3. Richard Jones Avatar
    Richard Jones

    Point taken, Adam. And I think YS offers a lot of speakers who do motivate and encourage and inspire (Donald Miller and the lady who went from homeless to Harvard?). So, I don’t think purposely NYWC tries to put up experts to give us a cookie cutter. There was one big church pastor who spoke last year (LA) who did mention many times how big his ministry was and how he did things, but I don’t think that is the norm for what you do at YS. Just knowing that you have thought it through is enough to satisfy me. But don’t miss the first thing I said: this post was brilliant. Keep making us think.

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