There’s an author and blogger named Carey Nieuwhof that pastors a large church in Canada and has become one of the leading voices for church leadership and growth in North America. I read his blog regularly and he often provides helpful thoughts about pastoring, leadership, and being a healthy church. But I also find many of his articles focus way too much on size, greatness, and success.
There’s a blog post he wrote recently that is making the church leadership rounds entitled Seven Signs Your Church is Honestly…Mediocre. In the article, Nieuwhof essentially argues that “many churches are neither great at things or terrible at things. They’re just…mediocre.” He proceeds to provide seven causes for mediocrity in the church, with the understood assumption that mediocrity is bad. But the “mediocre” ministry he’s referring to are things like mediocre worship music, poor quality live streaming of worship services, and lame church websites.
But if church “success” means having professional quality music, technology, and websites, then count me out of trying to be “successful.” Those aren’t the organizational values that I would use to measure success. Sure, I want to do ministry with excellence. Absolutely! No question! But I’m more interested in our church being true to who we are as a church, even if the rest of the church world would call our ministry mediocre. I’m only interested in us being who God has designed us to be as a local body of Christ.
So, in that sense, while Nieuwhof calls many churches “honestly…mediocre,” I’m more than fine being honestly mediocre (that phrase must be read with no pause and an emphasis on the honesty part). As long as we’re being honest to who God has made us as a church family—not trying to look and act like the cool church down the street—then I’m totally fine being called “mediocre.” Let’s stay consistently committed to growing as disciples of Jesus and to reaching out into our community with his good news, and let the chips fall as they may. If we grow as a church…awesome. If we never get big and “successful”…that’s okay too. Let’s try to be excellent in the organic, natural, honest ministry that God has called us too—and be okay if the world calls that “mediocre.”
If you're interested, HERE is a critique of Nieuwhof's article from Michael Frost