THE EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY CHURCH PT I
Over the last 2 years, I’ve begun to identify 3 characteristics of small- to medium-sized churches that I believe are the 3 most important factors in church growth and maturity.
I think these characteristics likely apply to churches of all sizes, but they manifest themselves differently in larger churches. The first two are Scripture Emphasis (both in the pulpit and in worship) and Visionary Leadership. Those are topics for another day. That third component, Emotional Health, is often overlooked by most churches because it’s hard to quantify and it seems a bit more “touchy-feely” than the Church usually likes to be, but I believe that if church leadership puts an emphasis on having an emotionally healthy congregation in conjunction with spiritual growth, that congregation will demonstrate greater Spiritual maturity than a church that doesn’t. Here’s why:
The single-greatest challenge that churches face today is the challenge of getting people invested. There are so many things vying for our time and attention that getting people to invest and care about faith and the church feels a never-ending cycle of begging, pleading, guilting, and cajoling. It’s the reason we have to constantly put the call out for volunteers for our ministries. The 80/20 rule is a rule for a reason. If you haven’t heard of it, the 80/20 rule states that in the church, 80% of the work will be done by 20% of the congregation. This applies to both serving and financial giving. The problem is that in most churches, that 80/20 rule is more like a 90/10 rule, which leads to MMD (Multiple Ministry Disorder) and ultimately burnout, not to mention a lack of resources for the ministries of the church. The solution, of course, is more workers, but how?
I had the privilege of serving as the Creative Arts Pastor in a church for many years that was led by a Lead Pastor with a high Emotional IQ. It’s been said that the personality of the congregation mirrors the personality of the pulpit. The Lead Pastor had a true Shepherd’s heart and it was that shepherding aspect of his ministry that set the tone for that church. That manifested itself in sermons that were strong on personal connection to Scripture, lots of interpersonal connections within the Body, and a congregation that felt truly connected to and known by their Pastoral staff. This was a congregation that naturally engaged in worship and had a sense of joy about them. Participation was probably closer to 75/25 (which, even though that sounds bad, is actually a jealousy-inducing number for many churches). Did that mean that there weren’t people with MMD and that we always had enough volunteers? Absolutely not. But that meant that, as a general rule, that church enjoyed a greater sense of community and ability to catch leadership’s vision. As a result, when that church was properly balanced, it enjoyed growth and increased influence in the community. When imbalances happened, though, the weight of emotional empathy caused the gears to grind, creating friction and decline. This is why churches that have a high Emotional IQ HAVE to pair that with strong, forward-looking leadership willing to make tough calls. This can be a very difficult thing in smaller congregations, but it’s imperative for the overall health and vision of the church.
Next time, I’ll dive a little deeper into more of the characteristics of both the high Emotional IQ church and it’s counterpart, the high Institutional IQ church, how to spot them, and the pros and cons of both church styles. You can read Part II here.
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