There are two kinds of churches. OK. That may be overly simplistic. But stick with me. I’m not talking about conservative churches or liberal churches. Neither am I thinking about large churches verses small churches, or growing churches and dying churches. No, there are two kinds of churches. There are bad attitude churches. And there are good attitude churches.
During my seminary days I had a professor who started each term by explaining the difference between a “good attitude class” and a “bad attitude class.” I don’t remember the specifics of what made a class one or the other. I do, however, remember the consequences. Bad attitude classes got bad attitude tests!
Bad attitude tests were supposedly harder than good attitude tests. I wouldn’t know. No one in my class was reckless enough to test the issue. Legend had it that a student once wrote a paper and referenced a verse from 2 Hezekiah… Because of his sarcasm, the entire class was labeled… You guessed it… A bad attitude class. They got a bad attitude test. And according to the legend, almost no one passed.
I remember thinking in those days that the professor seemed like the one with the bad attitude. Granted, I never expressed those thoughts out loud. I did not want a bad attitude test! But I have come to understand that he might have been preparing us for ministry. Of course he was preparing us with the content of the class. He literally wrote the book on Pastoral Work. He was preparing us for real life, in the trenches, pastoral ministry! He was preparing us to deal with bad attitude churches and good attitude churches.
Bad Attitude Churches
Bad attitude churches have taken their eyes off of Jesus. They care more about buildings and budgets than they care about the mission of God. They have an inward focus. They harbor sinful attitudes toward people who are not like them. They are content to hang on to what they have. Their fellowship is marked by strife, jealousy, rivalry and division. They remember the past with celebration and look to the future with desperation, if they even look at all.
Good Attitude Churches
Good attitude churches are not perfect churches. All churches have problems. There are no perfect churches. But good attitude churches… Well, they have good attitudes. They have an attitude of…
Humility enables a church to see its faults so that it can take necessary steps to move forward. Last week I wrote an article sharing eight Signs That A Church Is Heading For Trouble. Within hours of the article being posted, I became aware of several members of a church leadership team who were sharing it with one another and with other church members. I know this because I have been working with the church for several months.
Sometimes church members share information like that because they are offended by its content. Rather than look within, they blame the messenger. They are defensive. That was not the case with these church leaders. While I did not write the article specifically with them in mind, they saw themselves. And what they saw humbled them.
Humility allows us to respond to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Humility allows us to recognize our faults. Humility enables us to repent of our sin. Humility precedes revival. And humility is necessary for church revitalization. Good attitude churches have humility. They also have…
Good attitude churches are not satisfied with maintaining the status quo. They are not complacent. They are continuously re-dreaming the dream. They are constantly reinventing themselves. Not for survival. Not to maintain the institution of the church. Not to keep the doors open or keep up with the church down the road. They are hungry to do the work of building the Kingdom of God for the sake of the Kingdom.
It’s one thing for a pastor or a church staff to be hungry to do the work of building the Kingdom of God. It’s helpful when the lay leadership of the church has that kind of Kingdom focus. But when the members of a church share that hunger… When the members of the church are totally mission focused… When the members of the church don’t have to be convinced to be obedient to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission… That’s a good attitude church! Good attitude churches are also marked by…
Good attitude churches are happy churches. There is a prevailing sense of joy in the fellowship. Members truly love one another. They enjoy being with each other. They support one another. They submit to one another. They serve one another. And because they are also hungry for the Kingdom of God, they don’t allow this happiness within the family to lead them to an inward focus. Their happiness comes from their joy in the Lord and their love for one another.
My friend, Ron Madison, started an interim pastorate this past Sunday. Ron is a member of a Facebook group that I manage for Transitional and Interim Pastors. Here is what he posted to the group on Sunday: “Beginning a series at Southside this morning in Philippians, the Epistle of Joy. Churches in transition need a prevailing spirit of joy in the Lord to take them through this part of the journey!”
Good attitude churches have humility, hunger, and happiness. As a result, they also have…
Good attitude churches have hope for the future. No matter their current situation, they are hopeful for tomorrow. They don’t rest on their past success. They believe their best days are ahead.
Good attitude churches have the humility to look within. They have the hunger to pursue the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. They have happiness that comes from joy in the Lord and love for one another. They have hope for the future!
There are two kinds of churches. Bad attitude churches. And good attitude churches. The good news is that bad attitude churches can become good attitude churches. Humility, Hunger, Happiness and Hope can be developed. Make it a matter of prayer. Make it a matter of practice.