We are rerunning this blog post by our good friend, and founder of Holy Cow! Consulting, Russell Crabtree. You can find more of his writings on his blog, Crows Feet: https://crowsfeetdotorg.wordpress.com/author/jrussellcrabtree/.
Church climate is more critical to the mission of a church than programs, projects, positions or personal abilities. It’s not everything, but it is fair to say that much of what pastors, lay leaders, and members want their churches to be is found in churches with positive climates.
Here is what the research indicates. Churches with positive climates are…
They tend to be increasing in worship attendance while 90% of churches with poor climates are experiencing declines.
Twice as many members in churches with positive climate indicate the church is fulfilling its mission compared to churches with poor climates.
Twice as many members in churches with positive climate enthusiastically affirm that the church has given new meaning to their lives compared to churches with poor climates.
Members in churches with positive climates are much more willing to adapt to meet the changing needs of members and people in the community they want to reach.
Members are more comfortable with pastoral transitions and tend to take leadership changes in stride compared to churches with poor climates. They also tend to do better dealing with loss.
Members in churches with positive climates are much more comfortable telling faith stories than churches with poor climates. They also tend to hold more of their meetings out in the community rather than on church grounds.
Churches with positive climates are almost twice as likely to target groups in the community they want to reach compared to churches with poor climates. They are much more likely to indicate that different ministries within their church (education, fellowship, worship, missions) are taking steps to reach persons in their community rather than only serve their own members.
Churches with positive climates are much more likely to be spending time listening to the needs of people in their communities so that they can respond to those needs as a Christian witness.
Comfortable with Generosity
Churches with positive climates are half as likely to have members who say the church spends too much time talking about money.
Churches with poor climates have seven times as many people indicating that their church is going through the motions of religious activity. This is the definition of poor climate.
For decades, church leaders have been hesitant to name this reality as if some virtue was to be attached to faith communities that were declining, conflicted, struggling, recalcitrant, rigid, or strapped. It is as if the mettle of our discipleship is measured by our tolerance for dysfunction rather than our insistence on faith communities that exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, people today are asking this question: “Which church would you rather lead, serve, or attend?”