I’m a big fan of the therapeutic model … if you need therapy. But it’s a rare church that needs therapy … and over the years we’ve found that the therapeutic model is seriously hurting a lot of churches.

Let me explain.

In case you’re not familiar with the therapeutic model, it’s the practice generally used when someone needs to sort through some issue or another in their life and visits a well-qualified therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. In a nutshell, that model goes like this.

(1) Listen to the presenting problem.

(2) Uncover the underlying issue.

(3) Help the client address the issue so that they can return to a “normal” life – normal being what’s normal for them.

Over the years I’ve been on both sides of the therapists desk and can testify that the model is quite helpful … for people. But it’s not a viable model for organizations, viz. the church.

Here’s the therapeutic model applied to the church.

(1) Learn about the symptoms.

(2) Uncover the underlying issue/s.

(3) Help the church address the issue so they can return to a “normal” life – again, normal being what’s normal for them.

The problem is, for the vast majority to the churches in North America, normal is synonymous with stagnant, not growing, or even declining. And helping a church “return to normal” rarely helps a church grow. When a church spends its energy and resources dealing with whatever weakness it’s facing, then the best it can legitimately hope for is to come up to par.

How’s that working for your church?

The solution is to back off trying to get to normal and investing instead in the church’s strengths so that it can excel.

But that leaves us with an issue: many churches don’t know what their strengths are … and worse, some churches think they have strengths in areas that aren’t all that strong.

And so we’ve developed an online assessment tool to help church leaders get an idea where their strengths might lie. You can find it at StrengthSpotter.com and it’s free.

Once you know your strengths, if you’re a small church, choose the one you’re best at and pretty much put all your marbles in that bag. Small churches typically try to do too much and they end up not being very good at any of them. And in our culture, not very good is a synonym for mediocrity and not many people outside the church are tolerant of mediocrity. So, do one thing and work on it until it’s not just good, but excellent. And excellence is a magnet that draws people from far and wide.

If you’re a larger church, choose your strengths carefully. Be sure you’re truly excellent at one before working on another. No church is excellent at everything … but the larger the church, the more resources you can invest to attain levels of excellence. But many larger churches try to invest in everything simultaneously … not only can you not afford that, you’ll end up diverting your attention from your mission. And that’s a killer diversion (and not in a good way).

  • Find your strengths.
  • Choose one.
  • Build on it until you’ve achieved excellence.
  • Repeat only after attaining excellence.

NOTE: There are couple of  issues that are too dangerous to ignore … and until you deal with them you can invest all day long in your strengths and you’ll get nowhere. Conflict is one of those issues. If your church has unresolved conflict, you must get that dealt with before you can build much of anything. If you need help with conflict intervention call us. We can help.

Question: What is your congregation’s biggest strength and how are you building on it? Share with us in the Comments Section below.