Church Do’s and Don’ts – Guest post by Michael Durall

6/17/11 Book Update:  Church Do’s and Don’ts by Michael Durall is now available for order online through his website. Enjoy!

The following is a guest post by parish consultant Michael Durall of the Commonwealth Consulting Group.  This is a great list of Do’s and Dont’s to consider. Whether or not you agree, they are without a doubt worth discussion. You can download a PDF handout here and share it at your next board meeting.   ~ Peter

Church Do’s and Don’ts

by Michael Durall   (Post and PDF revised by MD 9/29/10)

I.  Things churches should do

Once and For All, Get Serious About Your Congregation’s Purpose.  Seeking beauty and truth doesn’t cut it. Church is more important than that.

Finding Capable Leaders is Worth the Time and Effort. Church leaders create a congregation in their own image, for better or worse.

Create a Growing, Healthy Church. The #1 way to accomplish this is to raise the expectations of membership. Uncommitted souls and hangers-on do not a congregation make.

Your Church May Not Be For Everyone.  If potential new members don’t agree with your expectations, do not let them join the membership ranks.

Identify Unmet Needs In Your Community. You don’t have to look far to find someone who needs a helping hand.

Touch People’s Hearts and Souls.  People don’t always act for rational reasons.

Don’t Settle for Less.  Going to church means we are not satisfied with the fern-bar quality of contemporary life.

Evangelism Could Be Fun If Your Church is Worth Talking About. Don’t want to talk about your church with others? If something truly important is going on, you would.

Develop a Sense of Urgency. When the devil hired a representative to do his work on earth, he hired the one who said, “I will tell people there is no hurry.”

Everyone’s a greeter. If first-time visitors experience loneliness, a very common occurrence, they won’t return for a repeat performance.

Ask new members to reach the 5-10 percent giving level. Why not? They may say OK. Actually, all members should be asked to do this.

Give away the Sunday offering and 5-10 percent of the operating budget to outreach beyond your own four walls. Not a single person should say your church can’t afford it.

II.  Things churches should not do

Don’t allow too many laypeople in the Sunday service. Sunday morning cannot be amateur hour. The quality goes in before the invitation goes out.

Don’t sit around and wait until new people show up.  Reach out to cohorts, such as single-parent families, or those recently divorced or widowed. There’s a lot of loneliness out there.

Church shouldn’t be just one more thing on the calendar.  Church is not akin to a kid’s soccer game.

Don’t let the same people run the church for years on end.  Even though they will try to.

Don’t perpetuate the past.  Most churches appeal to those born before 1955.

Don’t try to keep malcontents happy.  An unhappy person can remain unhappy for a very long time.

Don’t let uninvolved members make major decisions by forcing congregational votes. Keep membership roles current.

Don’t form unnecessary committees. The fewer, the better. The less frequently they meet  is even better. Church is about reaching out, not just committee meetings.

Don’t let members hold the congregation hostage by threatening to withhold pledges. If they have become that unhappy, maybe they should look for another church. See malcontents, above.

Don’t tell people a job will be easy and doesn’t require much time or effort.  Especially true of key leadership roles.

Don’t take excessive money from endowments or income-producing properties to supplement the operating budget. This creates an uninvolved, low-pledging congregation.

Don’t keep pledge records secret. The ministers, board chair, and stewardship committee members should have the pledge records. The higher the secrecy, the lower the level of giving.

Visit Michael Durall online at and

4 thoughts on “Church Do’s and Don’ts – Guest post by Michael Durall

  1. Amen Amen
    Can I re-phrase a few of the Do’s and Don’ts? ;>)

    DO– Finding, then developing and empowering capable leaders is worth the time and effort….

    DON’T–Never ever allow untrained people to have leadership roles in the Sunday Service ……
    Which leads to another DO—Develop and empower high quality ministers and worship associates who engage the whole congregation in participatory worship…

    IMHO of course!

  2. I do think people need to know what they’re talking about before they’re allowed in the pulpit. (This goes for ministers and laypeople.) But I also would like to see UUism become a people’s church.

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