God isn't bland. The Church shouldn't be, either.
5 Lessons The Church Can Learn From Lance Armstrong & Manti Te’o

I think churches can learn from almost every situation if we’re willing to look hard enough. Here are a few lessons I think we can learn from the recent troubles of Lance and Manti.

Don’t Lie

At first glance this probably seems like an odd lesson for a church. Doesn’t it go without saying that churches do not (or at least should not) lie? However, how often do we mis-represent who we are as a church? How often do we spice up our website or publications to make people feel that our church is something different than it is? I’m not suggesting here that churches shouldn’t have high-quality communications pieces. However, we need to work to make sure people don’t feel like we’re pulling a bait-n-switch on them when they walk through our doors.

  • Be vulnerable about strengths and weaknesses.
  • Be honest about vision and mission.
  • Don’t exaggerate attendance numbers or misrepresent the atmosphere of the church and people.

Don’t Cheat

Similar to the lesson above, this one seems like an obvious one. However, when it comes to church growth it’s easy to try to cheat. Growth is hard and there are no shortcuts. We need a strong sense of mission, a compelling vision, a well thought out strategy, and a core group of generous people who are willing to get their hands dirty.

  • Don’t be consumed with competing with the church down the street.
  • Don’t give in to the temptation to be a carbon copy of other ministries. Sure, get inspiration from other churches…but be sure to adapt for context.
  • Focus on reaching those in need in the community instead of “stealing” members from other churches.

You Are Only As Good As Your Reputation

Just as people have reputations, so do churches. What do people in the community think of when the name of the church is mentioned? I once worked with a church that, when considering a new logo, decided against re-branding because of the good will already associated with the church in the community. The brand is much more than a logo…the brand is what the church means to its community.

  • Work to become a beacon of hope and a place of refuge in the community.
  • Once there is momentum, be careful about doing anything that would change that progress.

Be Transparent

There are many ways where churches tend to become inward and secretive. From salaries and budgets to relationships and theology, it’s important for us to be as open as possible.

  • Wherever possible, opt for transparency over secrecy.
  • Teach people that its okay to have healthy conflict and to discuss areas of differences.
  • Set up systems to protect against the need to keep things in the dark.

When You Mess Up, Confess It And Ask For Forgiveness

Every church is full of people. Broken people make mistakes. It’s really important to address mess-ups as soon as possible to avoid escalation and additional damage.

  • Work toward an atmosphere of grace and forgiveness so people are comfortable admitting mistakes.
  • Leaders need to lead out and go first in owning mistakes.

Avoid Operating With Your Head In The Sand

Every leader in every church has a weakness. It’s okay. God has given everyone strengths which also means that everyone has areas where not gifted. Rather than ignoring weaknesses, embrace them and leverage those with compatible gifts to compensate. Everyone around us already knows our weaknesses…there is no benefit in pretending they don’t exist.

  • Use spiritual gift and personality inventories to learn strengths and weaknesses.
  • Encourage delegation and volunteerism to involve as many people (and their strengths) in ministry as possible.
Beyond the weaknesses of the leader, every church organization has problems as well. It can be very tempting to ignore the problems of the church and go on our merry way rather than naming them and working toward solutions.
  • Graciously call out problems in the organization.
  • Put together skilled teams of people and unleash them to solve the problems.

Whether a church is healthy and growing or struggling, we can all learn from the recent troubles Lance and Manti are experiencing.

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