Transforming Thoughts: Raising the Bar

“If you make it the expectation – rather than a request – that parents be in church and in Sunday school with their kids, you’ll find out that it happens. However high you set the bar, that’s where most people will end up.”

– Rich Melheim, founder of Faith Inkubators, in an interview in The Christian Century magazine, Feb. 22, 2012

Melheim’s statement may cause us to either cheer or groan depending on how we look at it. For some, raising expectations for our church families is just the thing to combat apathy. For others, we are afraid that raising the bar will alienate the few people we have left. As a general trend, the church has tended to lower our expectations to accommodate the wider culture’s declining church attendance.  As we have lowered our standards, other groups and organizations – schools, sports teams, arts programs, workplaces – have raised theirs. Inadvertently, we have communicated to our own members and to the community that a life of faith is not important enough to warrant a significant amount of our time and attention.

A life of faith IS important. We can turn this cultural tide by doing something that’s going to be uncomfortable at first: raising the bar.

  • What kind of expectations do you set for families in your congregations?
  • What kind of results do you get when you’ve raised the bar?

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