American Idol...Church Idol

American Idol is about to enter it's 10th season. And there are big changes happening. Why? Because the powerhouse has slowly been slipping. It has lost over 6 million viewers in the last four years. So instead of riding a potential sinking ship down, the producers decided some drastic changes needed to be made. Among them...
  • Simon Cowell, the sharp-tongued British judge will no longer sit on the panel. 
  • Ellen DeGreneres and Kara DioGuardi are also being replaced as judges.
  • Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler (Aerosmith frontman) will sit on the panel. Producers are hoping that the two will bring renewed interest with their star power.
  • A switch from the Sony Music label to the Universal Music label.
  • A "critique" culture instead of a "pack your bags and go home" vibe.
  • Moving to Wed. and Thurs. nights.
There is much we can learn from these changes. The producers of American Idol were wise in not making an "idol" out of the original American Idol format. They saw the slipping ratings, evaluated the current programming, and made a bold move to change what needed to be changed.

I have seen many churches make "idols" out of programs, traditions, and ministries. They see that something is not working, but are hesitant to make changes to the sacred idol. If someone is making these statements you may be dealing with a church idol...
  • We've always done it that way.
  • We can't change that, people will be offended.
  • We can't touch that. The plaque on it shows that "Sister" or "Brother" so-n-so donated it 52 years ago.
  • We don't need to make any waves.
  • These are evil days...we are just holding out until Jesus comes.
  • The so-n-so family have ran this church since 1932.
  • Deacon or Elder so-n-so doesn't like change.
  • Numbers don't mean anything. We may not be reaching anyone new, but at least we are deep disciples.
  • Let's not change things...they are okay the way they are. (notice I used the word "okay." Good is the enemy of great.)
  • If we do that, some people may leave the church.
  • It's too big a risk. 
  • The denominational headquarters wouldn't like us doing that.
If we care more about preserving a program than we do about rescuing people, then we're probably dealing with an idol. When ministry dollars continue to be spent on ministries whose "ratings" are dropping, then we're probably dealing with an idol. When we settle for programs and processes that are "good" but not "great" then we are probably dealing with an idol.

What do to about a Church Idol...
  • Remember you can't live on past successes.
  • Some people may need to be moved to a different role or transitioned off the team. You must have the right people in the right seats.
  • Establish what the wins are for each program or ministry.
  • Evaluate each year and see if wins are happening. In fact, are there enough wins to justify continuing to allocate ministry dollars toward it?
  • Bring in outside eyes to evaluate. Fresh eyes can see things you can't.
  • Take a look at the hard numbers. Is the ministry or program growing? Is it changing lives? Is it helping people take spiritual steps?
  • Be brave enough to make the necessary changes. Someone will get upset, (remember Paula Abdul) but have the courage to make the changes anyways.
  • Be wise in making changes. Sometimes you have to move fast, but many times it is a process. Make sure the right people are on board and the timing is right. 
Ratings going down? When it comes to church ministry, people vote with their feet. Maybe it's time to make some changes.

Posted by Dale Hudson