Take this 10-Question Quiz and Find Out
We thought that since Ken is away on vacation, this might be a good time to bring back his much requested blog post, “Are You Leading a Zombie Congregation,” originally published in the Episcopal Church Foundation’s Vital Parishes newsletter.
In case you haven’t noticed, zombies are becoming more popular these days. Gone are the old-time zombie movies with their slack-jawed, shuffling zombies. Nowadays the undead are appearing in zombie action movies, zombie romantic comedies, and zombie Bollywood flicks.
Zombies have even made their way into business literature. Companies and non-profit organizations that are operating but not growing have come to be called Zombies, because they are in a state of limbo – not dead, yet not exactly alive either – and because they maintain their undead existence by draining resources away from healthy organizations.
So what about zombie churches? Could there be congregations in which the individual members were alive, but the congregation as a whole was undead, having lost both the desire and the capacity to grow? It’s not just possible but true. By the standard just articulated, a significant portion of our churches (perhaps even a plurality) could be classified as zombies. In fact, churches may be more at risk of becoming zombies than other kinds of organizations, because they can blind themselves to their condition by convincing themselves that their lack of change and adaptation to new contexts is due to the strength of their traditions, or by saying to themselves, “If we could just bring back [insert favorite “Make Church Great Again” memory here], everything will be fine. Worse, they often maintain their undead existence for decades by consuming their own endowments and/or denominational resources that might otherwise go to healthier congregations.
Are you leading a zombie church? Take this ten-question quiz and find out…[Read more…]