009 – How to have a church failure … And why you should try to [Podcast]

church failure_commondreams.org

photo credit: commondreams.org



In this episode I addressed a topic that seems counter productive and counter intuitive.  Who in the world wants to have a failure?

I think we need to begin with our concept of failure and some reasons that we are afraid of failure.
Concept is easy. Failure is failure. Not the desired outcome. We had a target and we missed it. No one intentionally sets out to fail unless they are undermining something.
So what are we afraid of if we fail? What are our perceptions of the consequences of failure?
1. We have wasted resources. Time. Talent. Money.
2. We will be seen as “failures”. That is, that our identity will be wrapped up in this failed project.
3. We will be seen as reckless, irresponsible, bad stewards. That makes it sound spiritual.
4. It will cost us trust. It is a withdrawal from the emotional bank account or the trust account. People will be afraid to enter into our next suggested project. Our leadership become suspect. Our reputation is tarnished.
Thomas Edison failed many times before he invented the electric lightbulb. He was quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Seth Godin: “Do enough that something doesn’t work.”  I heard on Dan Miller’s 48 days podcast.
My brother-in-law used to be a ski instructor. He said, “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.”
So what if we saw failure as an opportunity to learn?
What if our vision is impacting The world instead of playing it safe?
What if we began by asking what God is leading us to do rather than how much is it going to cost? (Which is by the way the first question many church leaders ask.)
Suggestions for how to have a church failure:
1. Be sure that you are celebrating every victory, no matter how small they are. Remember previous podcast celebrate base hits to create momentum.
2. Debrief every church project or initiative. Ask what worked. Ask what didn’t work. Ask what we learn from both the successes and the failures. Ask what the next step should be based on what we learned.
3. Celebrate the cost of failure as an investment in learning how to better focus on the kingdom of God and God’s preferred vision for our church. Ministry statement: we will rejoice over every penny we invest in ministry as much as we rejoice over every penny that comes into our ministry.
4Be prayerful, discerning, and humble. Get God’s vision for the place to stretch and learn. A make or break issue, such as a multi million dollar building program, or transitioning or changingThe worship style of the church is not the place to plan for failure.
5. If you are going to have a failure, be sure it is focused outward on a kingdom vision rather than inward on maintenance.
Reasons why you should try to have a church failure:
1. If your church is stuck in status quo ministry. Everything is comfortable. Everything is predictable. Nothing requires much prayer or seeking God. We have smooth running systems and nothing ever takes us by surprise.
2. If your church is almost totally focused inward, so that you were virtually invisible in your community. Getting outside the walls and impacting the community is messy and will result in some failures. But those failures are a great opportunity to learn how to connect with those who are not yet a part of the family of God.
3. If your church is unhealthy and in decline. Perhaps even on life-support. The decision may be whether to begin a new season of trying to get healthier, or removing life-support and dying with kingdom purpose.


Resources Referenced:

48 Days Podcast (Dan Miller)

Your Church Matters Episode 3: Celebrate base hits to create momentum

Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)


Failure Articles & Quotes:

8 Reasons Why You Should Fail as Much as You Can (lifehack.org)

30 Powerful Quotes on Failure (forbes.com)


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