THE EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY CHURCH PT III
If you knew of a leadership strategy that could position your church for major Kingdom impact over the next 10-15 years, wouldn’t you take it? Today we’re talking about the biggest benefit (and some dangerous pitfalls) of being an Emotionally Healthy Church.
One final aspect to consider when thinking about Emotional IQ in the church is how it relates to future generations. Over the past 10-15 years, we’ve seen emotional and mental health become bigger topics in the cultural zeitgeist, particularly for Millennials and Generation Z. Distrust for institutions is at an all-time high, so churches that don’t feel so much like institutions but instead feel more like a community are more readily able to connect with these groups who are looking for connection on a deeper level. Because the culture has changed so much, the ways we used to use to communicate the Gospel aren’t as effective as they once were, so actual connection is more critical than ever. This is an area where the emotionally healthy church has a leg up.
Emotionally healthy churches, when properly guided by strong leadership with a firm foundation of Scriptural emphasis are able to grow dedicated disciples of Christ in a way that emotionally deficient churches cannot, but there are definitely pitfalls to watch out for in churches and leaders with high Emotional IQ. Strong emotional connections can cause leadership to value relationship with the individual over the health of the whole, particularly when the individual is a key leader or staff member. When issues arise with those in leadership, as they unfortunately do from time to time, whether they are sin issues or methodology issues, the high Emotional IQ leader may pursue peace at all costs. If that happens, eventually peace will actually become more difficult to attain because people become more firmly entrenched in behaviors and factions will form. This is how churches with high Emotional IQs split, because years of kicking the can down the road (ie: unresolved minor conflicts) eventually pile up past the point of resolution. Feelings are hurt, relationships are damaged, and one church becomes two.
Another pitfall for the high Emotional IQ church is leader burnout/compassion fatigue. That Lead Pastor I worked with that had a very high Emotional IQ? His calendar was a nightmare. He was rarely in the office because his schedule was full of meetings and visits where he spent the bulk of his time counseling congregation and community members. Not only did it quickly become apparent that he suffered from extreme compassion fatigue, but his health began to suffer. He spent time in the hospital and ultimately was so close to burnout that leadership had no choice but to send him on a sabbatical for the sake of his health and the health of the church. All the staff experienced compassion fatigue at one point or another. We performed so many funerals over the years for members of our community that we became the go-to church for our police and fire departments, as well as local funeral homes. While those services were an extraordinary outreach opportunity, they were emotionally draining for staff. Compassion fatigue is a real issue for every pastor, but it’s especially challenging for the high Emotional IQ church because the emotional needs of a congregation and community are intense and unceasing, because Life if Life. Before you know it, in attempting to meet those needs, you’ve over-extended yourself to the point of burnout. It’s important to put safeguards in place so that staff and leaders are protected from well-intentioned, but ultimately unsustainable outlays of emotional support.
Ultimately, though, churches with a high Emotional IQ are more equipped to meet the needs and challenges in their congregations and communities than churches who lack that emotional intelligence. For churches who struggle to retain visitors, get congregation members to connect, or lack volunteer and financial resources to accomplish ministry tasks, taking a hard look at their Emotional IQ could be the key to reinvigorating their church and transforming lives for Christ for generations to come.
I hope you enjoyed this dive into the Emotionally Healthy church. If you want to learn more about building a congregation with high Emotional IQ AND high Instititional IQ, let’s chat.
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...