Why Is the Church Afraid of Upsetting the Status Quo?

In his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin talks about the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer.

Organizations are filled with human thermometers. They can criticize or point out or just whine…The thermostat, on the other hand, manages to change the environment in sync with the outside world.Seth Godin

What does the average person think of the people who week in and week out file into a church building to meet for a few hours then go home only to do the same thing the following week?

Does the ritualistic activity have any bearing on those who are not a member of that organization? Does that person even notice anymore that the organization exists?

I have attended church for as long as I can remember. And, I have been a “member” of several churches over the years, even served on staff of some. Sadly, I report that most, if not all, of them tried their best to keep things as they are resisting any kind of change that might cause harm to the organization.

What happens is that the church becomes rigid, afraid of upsetting the status quo, becoming full of members who “criticize, point out what is wrong, or just whine.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a church or a corporation, the symptoms are the same. The religion gets in the way of the faith. Static gets in the way of the of motion. Rules get in the way of principle… People show up because they have to, not because they want to. Desire is defeated by fear, and the status quo calcifies, leading to the slow long death of the stalled organization. Seth Godin

The church has to be the protector of truth while being an agent of change

Before some of my peers begin calling me a liberal or even worse a heretic, let me say that I believe that there are some immutable Truths about Christianity.

These include the deity of Jesus Christ, the Virgin birth, the Trinity, and our need for a Savior who is Jesus Christ alone.

What I am saying is that if the church is afraid to change in the way it relates to the society around it, then the church will become irrelevant and without influence.

God intends His church to be an agent of change. And for that to happen the church needs to change the way it communicates and relates to the society in which it exists.

Here in America, the days of the average person feeling guilt for not attending church on Sundays or at least Easter and Christmas are just about over. Along with that the church no longer occupies a place of authoritative influence on the culture as a whole.

To put it bluntly, a growing amount of people don’t give what the church thinks on a subject any consideration.

And if a person does look to the church to get its insight on life, that information is too easily lost in a sea of information. Gone are the days where a preacher or Bible study teacher can claim authority on a subject because they are the scholar or one who studied the subject or scripture.

Access to immediate information reduces the need or existence of one or few owning the truth

Nowadays while someone is preaching or teaching listeners are googling in real time to check the accuracy of the information. For a leader of a church who is used to head-nodding submission, this is understandably threatening.

So we have a choice. We can as church leaders fight the change to keep things as they are. Or we can learn to adapt and embrace the way people explore, learn, make decisions, and follow.

I contend that we need to create a safer place for people to explore, along with other sojourners, what they believe about God and who He is. Too often teachers and preachers discourage questions that challenge authority, truth, and tradition.

The most common question from our modern day culture is, “Why?” We need to be ok with that question, and in fact encourage it.

Granted this is a messier way to lead, but what it does produce is true Christ followers and disciples instead of members of an organization participating more out of obligation and not passion.

Also, we just might lose some big name personalities and big money programs that tend to grab the spotlight.

Hmm…isn’t that spotlight reserved for Someone who deserves that glory?


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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

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2 thoughts on “Why Is the Church Afraid of Upsetting the Status Quo?

  1. I have longed wondered about how many church goers do not read the Bible. (Having done surveys, I can attest that few have read the whole thing.) Do you think that matters? How can someone say, “I believe the Bible is the truth” if he has never read it? How can he put on the full armor of God if he has read only his favorite passages? What about the Great Commission as delineated in Matt 28:20? I have asked hundreds (many of them pastors) if they know anyone who has ever discipled anyone. Most shrug their shoulders. Because if we look at the verse, it says to teach them to observe everything I have commanded… Someone who has not read all of the Bible, can that person teach anyone all that the Lord has commanded?

    What does this have to do with this essay? The Bible commands that we read it daily. Christ commanded that we make disicples. An overwhelming majority of church goers are disobedient to just these two essential parts of the faith. Is church becoming irrelevant because the world is changing, or is church irrelevant because God’s people have strayed so far from Him?

    Thank you for a fine message.

    • Hi Henry. Your observations reflect how so many in our churches are just going through the motions. They don’t really know the God of the Bible. No transformation. No change. No disciples. No wonder most are more concerned complaining about what is wrong within the organization rather than influencing the culture outside.
      Good to hear from you.