10 Dangerous Church Paradigms

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Unhealthy churches need to shift their mindset to get back on the right path.

I’ve been in church all my life. Along the way, I’ve seen and learned a lot. Almost all the insight I have into church has come by experience.

I have observed, for example, that paradigms can often shape a church’s culture. A paradigm, in simple terms, is a mindset; a way of thinking. In this case, a collective mindset of the church, often programmed into the church’s culture.

If the church is unhealthy, part of the reason could be because it has some wrong paradigms. In that case, it will almost always need a paradigm shift in order to be a healthier church again.

Recently, I’ve been thinking of some of the paradigms which impact a church. I’ll look at some of the negative in this post and in another post some of the positive paradigms of the church.

Here are 10 dangerous church paradigms:

1. This is more my church than yours.

No one would ever say that, but a sense of ownership can set in the longer someone has been at a church. They have invested in the church personally, and feel, often rightly so, a need to protect and care for it.

The negative of this mindset, however, is when people don’t easily welcome new people. They own seats. You better not sit there, no matter how much the church needs to grow. They control programs, committees and traditions.

Obviously, the church is not your church or my church. God has not released the deed.

2. We’ve never done it that way before.

And, if this is the “go to” paradigm, you probably never will. People with this mindset resist all change. Even the most positive or needed change.

Small change is big change to these people.

Ron Edmondson Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.

More from Ron Edmondson or visit Ron at http://www.ronedmondson.com/

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  • http://Rickenba.ch/blog/en Ralph M. Rickenbach

    This is a great list of paradigms that are found too often in church and should be avoided. The way to fight them? Faith. Knowing your purpose. Knowing God’s will for your church. And dreaming big.

    Jesus thanked the father for hearing him when Lazarus had died. Why? Because Jesus had a desire to see Lazarus alive again, and God granted his desire. God wants to grant our desires. These paradigms keep us from even asking.

    • MTNimrod

      Just a small quibble. This is what Jesus said about why he was thankful that the Father heard Him:

      “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” – John 11:41b-42, NASB

      So this passage has nothing to do with “our desires”. It has EVERYTHING to do with HIS desire.

      • Guest

        I think we agree that it was all about Jesus’ desire to see Lazarus alife again. Jesus, who only did, what he saw the father do, waited to act on his desire for the OK by the father. Jesus as man had a desire, asked the father, and waited for his positive response. Jesus showed us, as our pattern, how to go about our desires.

        • MTNimrod

          I’m sorry, Ralph, but I don’t agree. The point of Jesus raising Lazarus wasn’t so Jesus and Lazarus could associate further here on earth. The point, as stated by Jesus, was so those witnessing Lazarus’ resurrection would know without any misunderstand whatsoever that God the Father sent Jesus. Jesus knew even when it was first reported to Him about Lazarus being sick that Lazarus would die and be raised from the dead. This whole event is a testimony to who Jesus is.

          • http://Rickenba.ch/blog/en Ralph M. Rickenbach

            Absolutely – I agree. Why then did Jesus say: thank you that you heard me? That sentnence makes no sense at all if it was not Jesus initiating the conversation out of a personal desire. Either to show that he came from God, or to see Lazarus alife again, or to ease the pain in Mary and Martha – or all three? I learned that God always has multiple reasons and outcomes of his dealings. My thought only showed one layer, yours shows another. I blieve both are very true. And by the way, I by no means mean to make christinity about self-centeredness. But it is Jesus that said: ask me anything you want, and I will give it to you. That way the Father is gloryfied. And God gives us the desires of our hearts.

  • JB

    Great article w/ great insight! Thanks for the blessing!

  • tim

    What are ways to fix the 10 issues?

  • Hannah Thompson

    Yes, I know one that is probably more dangerous than all of the above since it is the reason for all 10 of them. “We don’t really need to know all of that deep stuff about the Bible.” God forbid that we know His Word on a deeper and more intimate level and that we seek the truth! I seek to teach the truth, but there are few who are willing to listen.

  • amos8

    Good article!

    How about this one: Loyalty (to leadership) over Truth.

    They think it best to not question the leadership–or address concerns others have with the leadership (“touch not the Lord’s anointed”)–even if there are serious concerns presented. For some reason this makes sense to them: “It is better to defend so-and-so no matter what (this is “being loving”), no matter how much evidence, no matter what the violation of truth, morals, etc.”

    Also: “We’re just ‘loving God and people’ … and not concerned about defining or understanding exactly what that means (at least biblically) … because that is hard and might cause division.”

    • Fred Paul

      Communion and communication are closely associated in meaning. So, is the communication one-way? We are sheep but the sheep should know His voice and not following the wrong shepherd.

  • Deana Callins

    At some point; we as The Body of Christ. Have to “understand” that everything going on around us and in us, Are Spiritual Things. Since we possess A Spirit. And God The Father is A Spirit. And satan is A Spirit. We all are Spirit Beings. God being the creater of ALL has full and total dominion/power/control. And God has given ALL of his Power to Jesus Christ his son. Who ‘Put All of himself (in us) that we may Be Victorious, Reign, and have dominion in the earth through “himself”Resurrection Power. If we Believe and Receive Jesus Righteous Spirit Body (in) Love towards us. Then we are FULL(running over, abundant, saturated, well supplied, plentiful, complete, not limited, whole, unlimited) In Christ Jesus!

  • Ben

    I truly, do not understand all this debate about why Jesus did this or that, Jesus did all things to glorify His and our father, Jesus came to reveal God,

    Jesus is the very wisdom Of God. Jesus did all things because He knew who His father was,and is, why Jesus had faith in His father and Jesus came to express this faith in His father to us. this is the reason we are fading away we do not know who the father is and why He is. to many dame rules on how to live as Christian to many rules on how to do this or that, we as Christian do not know how to act in the presence of God.

    We have been lied to led astray, because of the so called anointed and church leaders who by the way wrote a book and now they are the elite they can’t be questioned. Money hungry wolves, have taken over the leaders ship. we have been trained to be sheep in training we are not son and daughters of God, the blood of Jesus was shed for humans but sheep, we are not the image of God our Father but the image of a dump sheep. there is a church out there who does not believe in the gifts of the Holy spirit they were a one time thing but since Paul died he took the gifts away. and these churches are full every Sunday. why because they are not born again and they are a bunch of uniformed people who are following dead leaders. there are teachers saying if you do this God will do that what a bunch of cow chips. Ben

  • Roger Jenks

    Whenever I hear people say they have confidence because it was a unanimous board vote, or something is within our capacity, or it should be an “easy sell” I begin to wonder about the paradigms that are afoot.

  • Henk

    Just been reading the comments below, the people just revealed a great mindset! Story about Lazarus, nothing to do with the article, very dangerous, interpretation, it cause devision and distraction. People cling to their interpretation and it keeps them alone and apart from the bigger picture of the body of Christ. We love to correct each other. Enjoyed this very muh thank you.