January 22, 2024

4 Reasons Why Churches Become Insider-Focused

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It’s rare that I ever come across a church that started off as an insider-focused church.

Most churches start with a desire to reach new people with the Gospel. In those early stages of a church plant they have to reach new people or they die due to a lack of viability.

So how does a church that’s eager to help people outside of the faith follow Jesus drift towards becoming insider-focused and spending all of it’s energy taking care of people who are already convinced?

Here are the four most common reasons why churches become insider-focused:

1. They Stop Taking Risks

By its very nature, everything about a church plant is risky. It’s a brand new start up. Everything is new and everywhere you turn there is a new risk to take.

Somewhere along the way, when some measure of viability is reached, churches begin to mitigate risk by taking care of key stakeholders (insiders).

It’s a lot easier (and less risky) to keep church people happy than it is to continue to reach out to people who are outside of the church. When is the last time your church risked something big for God?

If you have outgrown your original risk taking ethos then your church is probably moving towards becoming insider focused.

2. They Stay Married to Old Methods

Over the last few years, churches were forced to change a lot of things. And while many churches have embraced digital ministry and reaching new people in new ways, some churches have resisted the need for change.

If you don’t have a church culture that embraces new ideas then you’re probably spending a lot of energy propping up old methods and programs. Those old methods and programs bring a certain comfort with them, because they keep people who are already in the church happy.

If your church isn’t evaluating your ministry methods and strategically stopping old things and starting new ones, then you’re probably moving towards becoming insider-focused.

3. Planning Overtakes Chaos

One of the most common misunderstandings of strategic planning is that the goal is order. The goal is actually to accomplish the vision. It is possible to manage and plan your way into losing momentum.

When planning and order become higher priorities than movement, your church is teetering on becoming insider-focused.

4. They Lack Vision

Clear vision is the greatest catalyst for movement and action in the church. When vision is fuzzy, things slow down and naturally drift towards becoming insider-focused.

We all wake up every day thinking about ourselves; it’s what comes naturally to us. That’s why both Jesus and the Apostle Paul paint a clear vision of spiritual maturity as living an others-focused life.

If your church is not sure where it’s going, chances are you’re moving towards becoming insider-focused.

We help pastors clarify where God is calling your church to go in the future and define how you'll get there—and then we coach you as you lead change.

Interested in learning more?

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

One Comment

  • Great insights and unfortunately 100% represents a parish I’m currently working with that has entered the survival stage due to internal conflict and inertia. Your wisdom is very helpful, many thanks.


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