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  • Writer's pictureKeith Haney

Is Your Church Entering a Season of Holy Discontent


Church Sanctuary

Churches resist cultural and social progression; this resistance negatively affects churches and people because they struggle to remain relevant in a rapidly changing society. As Barna & Kinnaman (2014) points out in the book Churchless, “Since 2008, we have seen significant reductions in church service attendance, adult Sunday School participants, small group involvement, Bible reading, prayer, personal evangelism, and donations” (Barna & Kinnaman, 2014, p. 33)  As society moves further from church culture and the church becomes less critical in their daily lives the organization needs to change its approach to the disenfranchised, but the foundation of God’s plan for salvation remains at its core. The Gospel message is still unchanged and powerful, but the organization is slow to adapt to the need for change.

“Since 2008, there has been a significant decrease in church attendance, adult Sunday School participation, small group involvement, Bible reading, prayer, personal evangelism, and donations,” Barra & Kinnaman (2014) note in the book Churchless. This tension between where the church is today and where it needs to make organizational change is the makings of Holy Discontent.

When our passion meets our purpose, it is called Holy Discontent. This is also called a "Popeye Moment" because Popeye could not tolerate anyone threatening Olive Oyl's well-being. It became a firestorm of frustration for him when anything compromised this.

What about you? What is the one aspect of this broken world that you can't stand, touch, or get near when you see it?

Holy discontent is when you experience an uneasy spirit about the brokenness of this world. This uneasy spirit aligns with God's heart, and positive action spurs us to change the world.

  • It was God's people's misery that drove Moses to discontent.

  • In David's case, Goliath trash-talked his God and his people.

  • For Nehemiah, it was people mocking God.


Finding your pain points

What are Your Pain Points?


1) "What is the problem you’re looking to solve?"

The church leadership might be focused on a different pain point than you. Use this question to determine whether they’re on the right track. Sometimes, prospects focus on symptoms rather than the cause.

2) "Why is now the right time to solve it?"

When asking why now the right time is to resolve this, you gauge the urgency of your leadership. You might even help convince them that it is an urgent problem if it isn't yet one.

3) "Who or what is this problem affecting most?"

It might be an EGR (Extra Grace Required) leader, staff person, or member. It could be your church itself, but asking this question allows you as a leadership team to consider the human or ministry costs of not addressing this issue quickly. 

4) "Is the problem clearly defined?"

Find out how long you spent investigating the problem. The more clearly you isolate the problem, the more invested the leadership is in solving it.

5) "Have you had this problem before?"

Analyze the persistence of your ministry's pain points.

6) "Is the problem easy or hard to address?"

The leadership will most likely say the latter. Surely, if it were an easy problem, they would have figured it out by now.

7) "Does this problem affect many people?"

Get your leadership thinking about how widespread the effects are.

Everyone has something that makes them feel uneasy, something that they dislike and frustrates them. What is yours? And how will you lead your church into the next phase of ministry God is guiding you?

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