I have been doing some research and studying lately: looking at various experts’ material regarding business, marketing and the web. I am searching to see if there are common principles in each presentation. So far there is a few. One of them is the idea of risk.
Let me put it in my words:
Those that are successful are willing to take risks.
Those who play it safe will be average.
We remember the risk takers: the Wright bothers, Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager (I know, these are some older examples). In football, the play we talk about is the risk taking one, the long pass on the fourth down or the Hail Mary play, not the average run up the middle. When is the last time you heard of the “average Joe” making it big? Who remembers the average? (Not talking baseball stats here).
The big motivators for people are pain and pleasure. Unfortunately, we will do more to avoid pain than we will do for pleasure (why I do not exercise consistently!). Think about it: if we desire something pleasurable, but it requires the pain of change, how many times do we rationalize why we do not make the change? We play it safe, not taking risks, so we stay right where we are - average.
The fear of the pain of change is what keeps us stuck in our averageness (yes this is a word, noun form of average, based on three online dictionaries).
Now think about the average church – they are average because they are pretty much like every other church (even if they think their not). In any average church you will find a similar organizational structure and format of doing church. I can get specific here if I need to, but will pass for the moment. Where average churches think they are different is when they put a different wrapping on the way of doing church. Let me give you an example.
Years ago when I was pastoring in Missouri, the big thing was to have a cool youth room. So we did that: we spent over $2000 on decorating. We received numerous compliments. Our youth attendance even when up - some. But you know what? We were still average. Why? We still did the youth meeting the same way. We still did youth outreach the same AND we still received the same response we always had.
Just doing the same thing with different glitz or glamour is not being different.
One reason churches stay average is they fear the repercussions of the others. This is especially true for many who are part of an organization that has its history of traditions (see what tradition really is – biblically). The ministry that truly steps out and takes risks to be different will be talked about. To many they will become liberals or compromisers. So we stay in our comfort zone of doing average church: getting our average results.
How to be average? Play it safe and do what you have always done.