This is a trick question. You will not find a perfect answer at the end of this post. Sorry, but so much of what determines success for you says something about what you see as most important. We can say we all agree on what is most important, but how we define it will differ. This difference in language is what often gets us in trouble.
Especially when we talk about church and faithful gathering.
Some of the most ambiguous language we use surrounds the faith community. It is easy to look at the arguments and stand-offs produced by our differences of opinion and assume it is the other way around, but that is often not the root of the problem. The root is pretty much like any other human relationship and social contract we get ourselves into, and have issues spring up:
- Assumptions (We all know this already)
- Generalizations (Don’t get caught in the details)
- Groupthink (We all think this way, why don’t you?)
- Factions (THEY did this…think like this…are the problem)
Once you examine your situation and wonder what might feel ‘off’, you might find your way to this list. Assuming we should all know what we are doing, generalizing the why of what we do together, adding dysfunctional wishes upon the people in the group, and then making ‘us’ and ‘them’ groupings. You might see these overlapping and definitely not occurring in a linear sequence.
Churches are rife with potential for conflict growing out of these roots, just like they are filled with opportunity to be immensely hopeful and healing.
So what in the world do metrics have to do with the root of issues?
Because many do not see what is important the same way. You can have a whole room full of people in any setting that all gathered under the same umbrella of purpose, and once it comes to the nitty gritty, all have a different perspective on what they are doing. This is why a ‘Twitter’ type conversation on important things is either broken, or in the process of breaking down. Everyone in the chat takes a shot at the ‘big idea’ or takes a shot at the opposing viewpoints. There is no nuance, there is little room for lacking understanding but desiring to learn together, and there is a high degree of resulting ‘social injury’ as a result.
The church gathering space has taken a hit in many places throughout North America post-pandemic. This calls into question what is ‘most important’ on your survey of what you do. What did you expect? Many did not ask that question, and are now indicating they expected something very different. For most, the question is simply this:
Where are they???
While we often talk about community development, spiritual awakening, faithful presence, growing in grace, etc. etc. the true hand might be showing. There has been a shift in the works for some time across the Christian church landscape and the pandemic exposed much, and it proved to be a catalyst for many new conversations needing to happen. As opinions polarize and factions separate, the question each group needs to ask is: What is most important?