I love learning the best ideas, methods and principles that I can find from as many people as possible.
But, no matter how good their idea is, no matter how well it’s working at their church, I’ve learned the hard way that my church isn’t their church. Because of that, I’d like to pass this simple principle on to you today, so you don’t have to learn it the hard way like I did.
We need to stop playing H.O.R.S.E. with other churches and church leaders.
For those who don’t know what that means, H.O.R.S.E. is a game basketball players like to challenge each other with. The first player tries a trick shot, then the other players have to duplicate it. If they do, they stay in the game. If they don’t, they add a letter until they’ve spelled H.O.R.S.E. and they’re out.
This happens in the church all the time.
We go to a pastoral leadership conference, where we hear about a church that’s discovered a new way to do a certain kind of ministry, so we go home and try to duplicate their trick shot, only to fail miserably. Then we wonder “what’s wrong with me and my church that we couldn’t pull it off?”
After trying and failing enough times, many ministers find themselves leaving ministry entirely because they couldn’t duplicate the success of others. But we’re not called to duplicate the success of others.
Learning principles from other churches is great. But trying to copy their methods, programs or style is just the church version of H.O.R.S.E.
It’s Not Just a Matter of Scale
This is especially true when we try to take ideas from big churches (which is where most of the books and seminars get their ideas) and transpose them to a Small Church setting.
A church of 50 can’t take what worked in a church of 5,000, remove two zeroes and expect it to work for them. Size is not the only difference between them. Small Churches and big churches have many things in common, but they also use a lot of very different methods, leadership styles and systems.
So should we stop going to conferences led by megachurch pastors? No. But we need to stop playing H.O.R.S.E. with them. We will lose every time we do that. No, we won’t lose to them. We’re not in competition with them, after all. But we’ll lose out on doing what we could do really well. Continue reading