A growing church is a byproduct of courageous leadership that prays boldly for a vision from God and then takes bold action that honors the vision God has given. But too many churches have traded in vision for the status quo. They have opted for comfort in doing what we’ve always done before rather than stepping out into the unknown of change. Courageous leadership is required to grow your church. Fear is a detriment to an effective church leader.  

Our brain comes with a built in “fight of flight” mechanism intended to protect us from threatening situations. Fear can also be a great motivator, leading us to take action. But often our fears are exaggerated. Sometimes our fears are completely unfounded (some call these False Events Appearing Real). Some of the things we fear we have little or no control over.

It is clear when we turn to Scripture that humans have always wrestled with fear. Over 400 times fear, terror and being afraid are mentioned in scripture. This is also why among the most frequent commands we find in scripture are the words “Do not be afraid.”

I believe that at the most basic level, the thing that holds churches back from growing is fear and a lack of courageous leadership facing those fears. Too many churches are being led from a place of passivity and fear. 

Sometimes bold action is needed to begin to turn your church around.

You may need to:

  • Preach a series “Why our church is dying.”
  • Confront a bully who is impeding your growth.
  • Let an unproductive staff member go.
  • Close a long standing yet ineffective ministry.
  • Restructure your church’s decision-making process.
  • Begin a new service in order to reach new people.

Now you may be thinking, “I’m afraid if I do any of those things then I’m going to get fired.”

I have long said that you can never cast a vision for a growing church by looking back over your shoulder.

Let me give you another acronym to address these fears.

Face your fears with faith.

Examine your assumptions in the light of the facts.

Address your anxieties with action.

Release your cares to God.

There is a wonderful illustration of this idea that I am reminded of each Christmas season.

In the television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees in everyone, everywhere. Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus’ help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.  Linus as we know is always carrying his ever-present security blanket. Throughout the story all of the characters work to no avail to separate Linus from clinging to his blanket. And even though his security blanket remains a major source of ridicule for the otherwise mature and thoughtful Linus, he simply refuses to give it up.

In that climactic scene near the end of the show, Charlie Brown’s laments, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” In response Linus walks to the pageant’s center stage where a theatrical spotlight shines down upon him like a Bethlehem star. Linus then recites the New Testament scripture passage from Luke 2: 8-14 where the angels announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds,

I wonder if you ever noticed what Linus does during his recitation. When he utters the angel’s words, “fear not” Linus drops his security blanket.  Looking at it now, it is pretty clear that Peanut’s creator Charles Schultz was saying something meaningful to us his viewers. Because of the good news of great joy that Jesus our savior had been born, we can let go of our fears.

Courageous leadership is trusting in God’s power and God’s vision enough to take prayerful action to move your church from where it is to where it needs to be. “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”