The Shrinking Church:
No More BS…The Church Needs Resurrecting


Prologue and Introduction: Intent  and  PurposeThe Shrinking Church

This thread of articles is for clergy and leaders of mainline protestant churches. The purpose is to recognize systemic dysfunctions and leadership gaps that are limiting the effectiveness of the local church and many times are in the way of true and effective ministries. For the full statement, see Post #1 of the ongoing series. The intent is to promote dialogue through, and awareness of, possibilities for growing healthy ministries of any kind.


Post #2: No More BS…The Church Needs Resurrecting

“If Jesus came back and saw what was being done in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.” – Woody Allen

This is written during a time when thousands are leaving the church weekly, a time in which Millennials think that the church does more harm than provide value and a time when church leaders are divisive in leading their congregations to exclude “others” not acceptable to their particular dogma.
Jesus died and Christ arose…the ultimate sacrifice. Do we value this sacrifice? Many died, burned at the stake for translating and preserving our Bible, and we don’t even take the time and energy to read and study it seriously. Maybe the church has died and we don’t even realize it. It’s time to notice.
Jesus Wept
It’s time to ditch the BS (bad systems) and get to the real meat of issues that are plaguing the organized church.
  • The bureaucracy is stifling…
  • The CEO posturing of clergy, and congregations’ expectation that the clergy be CEOs, is contrary to the role of spiritual leader…
  • The continuing conflict between clergy and musician…
  • The petulant and churlish behavior of musicians toward clergy is polarizing for members…
  • The consumer mentality of church members is minimizing their spiritual growth and the ability to strengthen Christian community…
  • The creation of a scarcity mindset when God has provided us with abundance…
  • We have subliminally reframed scripture to support our positions rather than aligning our behaviors and philosophies to the intent of scripture.

It’s time for a new model for leadership!

The tactics used by some clergy that holds members through guilt and duty in that they must earn salvation and be in favor with God (translated as, in favor of that clergy’s tactics) is another area of dysfunction to which Nadia Bolz-Weber speaks quite frankly: “If my work as a pastor and a theologian does nothing else in the world I wish it to do this one thing – that those in my care may know this: If you have been told that God is some kind of punishing, capricious, angry bastard with a killer surveillance system who is basically always disappointed with you for being a human being then you have been lied to. The church has failed you and I am so sorry.”

Read the post…

God must truly grieve about what’s become of the church that professes to follow God’s call. Edmund Steimle had a profound gift for language. One of the most memorable moments in my memory is when he challenged church leaders to be aware of our focus on the details of what we do, at the expense of listening to and being present to God’s voice in our lives and in our work and in our church leadership.

Who will blow the whistle on this?

We tread the waters of apathy while giving space to those who want to bring attention to themselves.

I wrote on Good Friday that it’s time to bury the church. Then, and only then, can the church be resurrected in a new and more vital form.

Here’s what Richard Rohr said about this concept from a personal perspective. For me, it also applies to the church:
In the passage (Philippians 2:3-8) Paul uses the Greek word kenosis to describe Jesus’ act of self-emptying and surrender. Contemplative prayer is a practice of self-emptying. At its most basic, contemplation is letting go–of our habitual thoughts, preferences, judgments, and feelings. Though life itself is often our most powerful teacher through great love and suffering, contemplation is a daily, small death to false self and ego. It makes space for True Self to reappear, to rise from the ashes of our partial and protected self

Read the post…

Therefore, it’s time for church leaders, principally clergy, who hold the power of position, to transform and resurrect this institution that has become irrelevant and, more often than not, the opposite of what it’s professed to be. Actually, it reframing from power of position to power of influence.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that we abandon the institution that we all love, or turn our backs on the world that needs our thoughtful intervention; I am suggesting that we follow the thinking of the Apostle Paul, who challenged us in the letter to the church in Corinthians, to be transformed by the renewal (renewing, in some translations), speak the truth in love, and live out the culture of love.

Richard Rohr’s message about kenosis, a paradigm shift for thinking, is about the emptying not only of ourselves but additionally of the institution of the church.

To transform any organization, the journey begins with self-transformation.

Here are today’s questions:

  • Who will step into a new leadership role?
  • What does your new leadership role look like?
  • How does the pastor step out of doing into leading and resourcing of leaders?
  • How do pastors manage conflict by not avoiding it?
To transform any organization, the journey begins with self-transformation.
We all play a role. When there’s conflict, we all contribute. When wanting to change how others in any group’s emotional culture behave, one can only change oneself, and then others respond.

Easter is a time for celebration and prayer, for our own well-being, the well-being of our loved ones and the well-being of the planet. I pray that the people of this world discover the purpose for their being and that it is not thwarted by a malevolent few. I pray that everyone finds fulfillment in life, improves as a result and positively impacts the world. Armstrong Williams, on

Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation. ― Thomas Keating

Contemporary poet Christian Wiman writes beautifully, “Faith itself sometimes needs to be stripped of its social and historical encrustations and returned to its first, churchless incarnation in the human heart.”

It’s time for a clergy and faith leader refresh. Check out the series below.

Please comment below.

Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership StrategistTM

Read about me on Forbes

(c) 2022, Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved.

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