I’m not going to make the point that you think I am. You probably think I’m going to say, “The Cleveland Browns are horrible. Churches can’t afford to be horrible”. While that’s mostly true that is not my point. My point today really gets at the root of why the Cleveland Browns are horrible. If you aren’t a football fan please stick around through this little section on Browns history, because I think you’ll be able to appreciate my point.
Why the Browns Are Horrible
The Browns moved away from Cleveland in 1995 and became the Baltimore Ravens. They did not return to the NFL until 1999 when they became an expansion team. Prior to the move the Browns were horrible. They blew the whole thing up and became the Ravens.
The first two seasons were horrible. 5 wins in two years type of horrible. In 2001 Butch Davis looked like he was turning it around. In 2002 the team actually made the playoffs. They had some things going for them but for the most part their abysmal record in 2003 and 2004 was more accurate of the team.
In 2005 the Browns hired Phil Savage as GM and Romeo Crennel as the head coach. They blew the place up again. And it in its place they began building a pretty decent football team. (Though many will disagree with that statement). In 2007 they actually finished 10-6 but missed the playoffs. They were pumped for the 2008 season. But as it usually happens with the Browns the wheels fell off. Injuries and poor decisions led them to a 4-12 record. So guess what happened.
They blew the thing up again.
They fired Crennel and Savage and hired Eric Mangini and George Kokinis. They led for about a year. Then Mike Holmgren came in. And guess what he did? He blew the place up. He fired Mangini. Hired Pat Shurmur. And started the rebuilding process over again.
Whew. Browns fans are done right? Nope. In July of 2012 Randy Lerner sold the team to Jimmy Haslam who plans to…you guessed it—blow the place up. In case you aren’t aware “blow the place up” simply means fire almost everybody and start over again. That, my friends, is one of the main reasons the Cleveland Browns are horrible. They never stick it out past the speed bumps. They don’t have one singular vision that they stick to. They do for a season and then they blow it up and try something different. You’ll never win that way, and even if you do it will be a short-lived fluke.
Why Churches Can’t Be Like The Browns
Many churches are like Browns. Pastor Bill stays for 2 years and implements his vision. The church rallies around the new vision (or at least most of them do). Then Pastor Bill “gets called” to pastor a larger church in a different state. Pastor Frank comes in. He eventually blows the place up and implements his new vision which the church lives out for all of 6 months before they have to call their next pastor. On and on it goes. 4 pastors in 10 years = at least 4 different visions for the church.
Just as Browns fans get frustrated wondering if we are ever going anywhere, so church members get frustrated wondering what the church is going to look like in a couple years. People are less enthused about following the new pastor’s vision because let’s face it, homeboy is going to be gone in two years and we’re just going to have to do some other Purpose Driven something to restructure our church.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
If pastors would simply lead their churches to implement a biblical structure and not worry so much about specific “vision” then you wouldn’t have to change it with every new pastor. Sure the way that Pastor X decides to live out being a “kingdom-focused church” will look different. But hopefully if a biblical structure is in place you won’t have to blow up the place with every new pastor. (I am encouraged too that a good number of pastors are beginning to understand the benefit of sticking it out for years instead of being “called away” at every difficult time).
Come back in a few hours and I’ll show you what we are attempting to put in place at our church to match this commitment to not be the Cleveland Browns of churches…