The danger of pretending

July 20, 2010 — Leave a comment

One of the best questions I’ve ever encountered as a leader is: “What are you pretending not to know?”

I know . . . it’s not especially deep at first glance. But when you spend some time with it and really think it through, I think you’ll agree that it’s a question worth keeping around.

I ran across this post about mega-churches the other day, and I’ve been giving it some considerable thought. In fact, I’ve found myself asking that question: “What are you pretending not to know?”

Having served in a number of churches through the years, I can attest to the fact that young adults indeed seem to be leaving the church — or at least migrating to nearby mega-churches. Whether it’s the coffee shop, the bookstore, or the high-energy children’s programming that draws them in, many medium-sized churches are feeling that frustration and discouragement that comes from having ‘missing generations.’

I have a number of friends and ministry colleagues involved in leadership at some of the nation’s most vibrant mega-churches. These are good people with strong values and an unwavering commitment to excellence. Having grown up in the country, I’ve had my share of turns helping a stubborn old goat get its horned head out of a fence. That experience sure gives practical weight to the old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

I think that statement bears consideration by the leaders in mega-churches and — dare I say it? — regular churches.

Sure, the folks in ‘regular’ churches are aware at least on some level that:

  • The quality of facilities and technology may never match that of mega-churches.
  • The younger generations are drawn for some reason to the mega-church model.
  • The number of specialized ministries is largely limited by the number of individuals available to staff them.

But the folks in mega-churches are, I believe, also aware of some key things:

  • The anonymity factor of the mega-church model makes it more difficult to connect individuals in the life of the church.
  • The self-focused consumer mindset of many mega-church attenders presents some real challenges to leaders.
  • The bigger the crowd, the more difficult it is to know and respond to individuals in need of ministry.

Rather than looking with envy at another church, why not take some time to focus on the main things?

  • God loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die for us — that we might live!
  • Regardless of church size, the individuals in them should function as a family.
  • People need the love, support, prayer, accountability, and encouragement of other people.
  • Our focus is not supposed to be on ourselves but on Christ — and making sure the people in our community and our world know Him too.

Sure, there are lots of things that we often pretend not to know about our specific situations. But today one thing strikes me most that perhaps we pretend not to know. That is the fact that if Satan can get us focused on other churches and their ministry models, other people and their hidden agendas, or our own selfish desires, then he’s got us right where he wants us — in a place of paralysis that prevents us from effectively ministering in our own context.

Let’s stop pretending that ‘if only’ this or ‘if only’ that, then . . . .


When the trumpet of the Lord sounds, and time is called here on earth, I don’t think we’ll find God asking us why we didn’t do as well as the church down the street or the church across town. I think we’ll find God holding us accountable for doing the very best with what we had and what we knew to be true.

Perhaps more than anything else we need to stop pretending that we’re somehow responsible for the harvest and just be diligent to faithfully and joyfully sow seeds.

What are some things that you and/or your church are pretending not to know? How are those thoughts impacting your ministry effectiveness? Join the conversation on the Facebook page.


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