In a recent post, Thom Rainer describes what he calls “nine traits of mean churches.” Here are the first seven:

• Too many decisions are made in the cloak of darkness. Only a select few members really know what’s going on. The attitude of those elitists is that the typical member doesn’t really need to know.

• The pastor and/or staff are treated poorly. Decisions are made about them without a fair process. Complaints are often numerous and veiled. Many of these churches are known for firing pastors and/or staff with little apparent cause.

• Power groups tenaciously hold on to their power. The power group may be a formal group such as a committee, elders, or deacons. The group also can be informal—no official role but great informal authority. Power groups avoid and detest accountability, which leads to the next point.

• There is lack of clear accountability for major decisions and/or expenditures. The church has no clear system in place to make certain that a few outlier members cannot accumulate great power and authority.

• Leaders of the power groups have an acrimonious spirit. Though they may make first impressions of kindness and gentleness, the mean streak emerges if you try to cross them.

• A number of the members see those outside of the church as them or those people. Thus, the church is at odds with many in the community instead of embracing them with the love of Christ.

• Many members have an inward focus; they view the church as a place to get their own preferences and wants fulfilled. They are the opposite of the description of church members in 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul describes them as functioning members for the greater good of the body of Christ. (Click to read the full article.)

Does this describe any churches you know? What can we do to help churches move from mean to mission-focused?

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