Is Your Church Facing the Facts? What is Hurting Your Missional Culture?

It can be hard to face the facts–even when facing them might be precisely what’s needed to jumpstart any important changes or shifts in the life of your church.

Bill Hybels said it long ago, “The facts are our friends.”

Ministry leader, as hard as it might be for each one of us to admit, loving the flocks we shepherd also includes the challenge of truth telling. The reality is—when living within a system for a long time—most people will have a hard time seeing what is really happening within that system. But part of a leader’s job is to help them. The facts are our friends.

Unfortunately, all too often, in church especially, we just don’t like them.


Let’s face it. We say we want change—that we want to raise the missional temperature in our churches and make mission our mission—but actually confronting the facts might just indicate that that we’re not as hot as we hoped we’d be.

And let’s be honest. When it comes to matters of “living out our faith,” will an honest assessment expose the reality that we’re actually really comfortable with the status quo? Change might cost us.

Certainly when it comes to our own leadership, it’s true. We might have to lead differently, “setting an example” and moving in ways even we’re not quite used to.


In order to grow a missional culture in our churches, we will need to confront our own reality as well as that of our congregation, with all the honesty and authenticity we can muster.

Is your church growing? If so, where is that growth coming from? Is it growing because new believers have come to understand who Jesus is?

How good are your people at being missionaries where they live, work, and play? And are they good at it because you’re modeling what it looks like to walk the way of Jesus? Noticing others outside the church walls. Being curious. Listening and asking questions and entering into conversations with those you meet along the way. Praying for opportunities to share the gospel as you build relationships.

Are you willing to take a reality check? Remember, this check is not to produce guilt or shame. Acknowledging and assessing ourselves—right alongside the people and ministries we are called to lead—can bring about exciting opportunities to change course.

Remember, the facts are our friends.


A group of pastors in the Chicago suburbs were meeting monthly with the goal of checking in, building relationships, and getting on the Mission of God together. Mike was the new guy, a pastor of one of the “big four” churches in the area. During one of their gatherings, Mike got honest and told the group that if his church didn’t radically alter the way they were doing things, they wouldn’t be around much longer. He had told his elders pretty much the same thing, and all  of them were now trying to figure out what to do next.

Mike knew that his church had to get on God’s mission. He also acknowledged that it started with him. Mike. Moving outside his church building, cultivating connections with his own neighbors and leading by example. As he acknowledged and assessed his church’s reality, he realized he had to acknowledge and assess his own.

Then, he set out to change both.

Today, that church is on a pathway to a whole new place. Mike’s willingness to confront the brutal facts built the foundation for the church’s resurgence today.

The first step in building a missional culture in any church is to be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid of being honest with yourself and your congregation. And to help you begin to do that, here’s our free assessment