You’re not alone! Each year we consult a number of churches. One part of the process is to interview a cross section of the congregation in private, one-on-one interviews. It’s amazing what church people will share in a confidential interview, with a stranger from out of town!
We will always come across chronic complainers in congregations. They are easy for our consultants to spot. During the interviews with complainers, it’s ALL negative, balanced by NOTHING positive. These people aren’t really helpful to our diagnosis. Their approach negates the credibility of the content.
In 2008, our consultants discovered something new and greatly different in a few of our interviews. By 2009, the frequency started to increase. Now, it’s a regular feature in every church and it’s growing!
- What is the profile of this different, relatively new type of interview response?
- How are they different?
- What does this mean for the Christian movement?
These people are not complainers! The narrative goes something like this:
“This interview we’re having is confidential, right? Well, I don’t want to sound like one of those complainers. And I haven’t shared this with anyone at church. My wife and I just talk about it at home – privately. The kids don’t know anything about it.
I don’t want to sound negative, but we have so much about our church that is great. We have a wonderful pastor and staff. Our sermon messages are just fantastic. We are not planning on leaving this church for any reason. We are involved in several areas of ministry. We give financially at a sacrificial level.
However, we just can’t get over this frustration. For all these things our church does so well, we should be bustin’ out the walls with people. We ought to have tremendous impact on this community.
But we’re not growing. We are not making an impact. It drives my wife and me nuts. We are so frustrated! Why can’t our church show more ‘fruit’ like Jesus talks about?”
After more research, we developed a name for what these people reflect: Holy Discontent. Sometimes we also refer to it as spiritual restlessness. We have even built some surveys that measure this phenomenon for everyone in the congregation. Here is what we have come to understand:
- We believe his discontent is the work of the Holy Spirit.
- We have come to realize that these people with Holy Discontent exist in every congregation and their numbers are growing every year. God is on the move!
- They aren’t always everyone on the staff or leadership board. Sometimes they include that 85-year-old widow who sits in the 3rd row in worship every Sunday.
- They are the “early adopters” for a renewal process in a church. They are the ones who will pay for it to occur.
Are you, perhaps, one of these people?
How does this make you feel?
Can you share this blog post with your pastor?
What does this trend mean for the future of the American church?