When your car isn't running properly you take it to a mechanic who has an electronic gizmo that reads your car's computer and diagnoses the problem(s).  Sometimes fixes are relatively simple - a new set of plugs, replacing a bad sensor... other times, problems are much more significant and require greater investment (or trade in :) )

Effective pastoring requires a great amount of diagnostics as well.  Blessed is the man who is able to get to the root of problems quickly and knows how to 'fix' them.  Here are a few 'trouble-shooting' tips from a pastor with a lot of "grease" under his nails:

If your church is experiencing disunity... try getting them to focus outside themselves.  Churches will devour themselves when they are (1) in a pattern of decline or (2) have no vision beyond themselves. For decline, establish attainable goals for your church.  If you average 60 worshipers on Sunday, have a campaign to hit 90 or 100 on a special day.  Say what you will about such tactics, once your church gets some "wins" under its belt, attitudes will change.  (Caution: be reasonable with your goals or you can destroy any momentum you hoped to create)

Compare the church to a football team.  When things are going well, fans exude confidence and praise and call to raise their coach's salary.  When things are going bad, fans will blame it on players, on coaches, on administrations... and such outcry often leads to someone losing their job.  Whether fairly or unfairly - it's just the nature of things.

Pastors often get too much credit for the success of the local church - AND - too much blame when things are in decline.  As leaders, however, we DO bear some of the responsibility for the health and direction of the church.  Start planning for success.  Include your people in your thoughts.  Help them think about something besides the family that just left.

Additionally, focus on giving significantly to missions, the children's home, the local homeless shelter, or whatever outside ministry your church can get behind.  Consider adopting a struggling church you can help with small projects, labor, and/or money.  As people begin to glorify God with their monies, attitudes begin to change from "me and mine" to a Kingdom focus.

Set those 1, 3, and 5 year goals your church can focus energy behind.  Whether it is as small as renovating the foyer or buying a new van... from painting classrooms to building a gym (oops, I mean 'family life center') constantly remind people of the good things going on and the projects in the works.

Momentum is tough to create.  The greatest difficulty most of us will face is getting the decline to stop.  It is a lot easier to move an object that is already moving in the right direction.  But if you will work to change the culture from losing battles, negative talk, and fleshly infighting to working together for the good of the Kingdom, things will improve before you know it!

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