Skip to content


10 Reasons Why Churches Fail to be Missional


  1. We have trained our laity to be passive because we have made “ministry” a professional role of a few ordained persons.
  2. The pastor or missionary assumes no one else could do the job and therefore is reluctant to let anyone try.
  3. We make of “leadership” such a large, frightening, demanding affair that no “laypeople” in their right mind would care to “volunteer” for it.
  4. We do not know how to be equipping leaders. We are able to do the tasks, but not to teach others to do them.
  5. We stress the “Santa’s Helper Syndrome,” expecting “laypeople” to handle unpleasant internal up-keep jobs in the Church rather than preparing them for real “ministry” in the world.
  6. We do not know how to graciously delegate authority and may, in fact, be afraid of losing control if we do so.
  7. We delegate responsibility but do not know how to assist the members in performing their tasks, nor do we readily check back with the members at the right times during the course of their ministerial activity.
  8. We are endlessly “preparing” the members for something in ministry, but never get around to planning, organizing, or programming the “ministry” activities themselves. (This is a common problem for those congregations which spend a long time training for evangelism, but never seem to be able to get out into the streets, homes, businesses or schools to actually do evangelism.)
  9. As pastors and missionaries we may be afraid of training others who might do “ministry” better than we can, and thus we might lose our own position, prestige, power, or job.
  10. We hold a professional perspective of the nature of the Church which leaves room only for full-time, specially-trained, and specially-paid “professionals” to do the work of the Church within itself as well as out in the world.

Charles Van Engen, God’s Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), 175-6.

I particularly resonate with #5. I think that’s the reason why a lot of people burn out. They burn out not because they don’t like to serve, but because they do meaningless tasks and tasks they feel they are not particularly good at (e.g. making registration forms, fighting with spreadsheets, typing minutes, moving furniture……)

Now my question is, how can #5 and #10 go together? Can we hire professionals to do the more administrative upkeeping tasks (e.g. more office secretaries, event-planners, and janitors) and release the laity to do real people-based ministry such as caring and evangelism? Will that be considered committing the crime of #10, taking away the ministry of the people? Where do we draw the line? Any input anyone?

Extended Reading: 解放信徒職事的枷鎖 – 胡志偉牧師

Posted in Church, Mission & Evangelism, Posts in English.

Tagged with , , , .