Corporate Death Wish

Chatting to my friend Mark Bonnington (Kings Church Durham) on the phone the other day. We got on to church planting and attempts to reignite dying fellowships. I think we both agree that initiatives to reignite dying embers are more and more critical, if huge quantities of kingdom resources are not going to be slowly and painfully squandered as fellowships dribble towards their end, and whimper out of existence.

But he raised the concern that his church is developing leaders that they would love to guide into situations of reignition, if they were actually going to be allowed to reignite. However, in many instances a church on its last legs is there precisely because it has taken decisions that mitigate against spiritual life. Most obviously that it is a comfort zone that nobody present actually wants to be challenged or changed. What they are looking for is someone to come in, keep the status quo and maintain the congregation's happy, spiritually pointless non-kingdom-extending club. Unsurprisingly, not particularly attractive for leaders who want to grow the Kingdom of God.

The phrase Mark used was "churches with an unspoken corporate death wish." They would never say it, but when push comes to shove they would rather die than do what it takes to see the shoots of new spiritual life. He identified a particular generation of folk in whom he sees this tendency, among whom vision has burned low and discipleship has waned, but who like to sit in church with their friends. 

Needless to say, pastors and leaders on the lookout for where God would have them serve next should take pains to steer well clear of corporate death wish places. Why go somewhere where the instinct is to resist growing in God rather than to embrace it? (unless you are looking for comfortable status quo, in which case you shouldn't be in leadership anyway). That kind of pseudo-church will die, and it will take leaders out with it.