There's a disease infecting many of our churches. I call it Cool Church Cancer.
It's a progressive disease that happens in three steps:
Step 1: A cool, new church comes to town. Or a cool, new pastor.
Step 2: Some people leave our church for the cool church.
Step 3: We respond with anger, jealousy or both.
(Note: sometimes steps two and three happen in reverse order.)
I know about this first-hand, because there are a lot of cool, new churches where I live, in Orange County, California. Cool big churches. Cool huge churches. Cool super-duper-mega-churches.
My church isn’t one of them.
Instead, every Sunday morning, thousands of church-goers drive past our front door on their way to dozens of cool churches.
That used to bother me. A lot.
As I outline in the second chapter of The Grasshopper Myth, “How Trying to Build a Big Church Nearly Killed Me – and My Church”, I tried to copy the cool churches. Then I got jealous of them. Then I got mad. Then I burned out.
Finally, I grew tired of feeling jealous, got help, started redefining success and changed my attitudes and actions.
Today, I’m a Cool Church Cancer survivor.
The first step in my cure? Recognizing that the cool church wasn't the cancer. My anger and jealousy of them were the cancer. And it was killing me and my church, not them.
Here are seven lessons I learned the hard way. I hope they can help you so you don't make the same mistakes I made.
1. Don’t Get Mad, Get Healthy
It’s so easy to get mad when people leave our church for the cool, new church.
- We get mad at the cool church. “They’re just about entertaining people, not deep teaching.”
- We get mad at the people who left our church. “They’re so shallow to chase fads and cool programs for their kids.”
- We get mad at the people in our church. “What’s wrong with them? If they'd step up, we’d be a cool church, too!”
- We get mad at ourselves. “What am I doing wrong?”
- We get mad at God. “I’m being so faithful. Why aren’t you honoring that, Lord?”
Jealousy and anger are like weeds in the garden. We need to root them out. Then we need to replace them with healthy plants. There's no bigger enemy to nasty weeds than a healthy garden.