Excerpt from Chapter 3: Do We Need a Better Mousetrap?

The Lethal Mousetrap

There are two kinds of mousetraps that church leaders tend to use when faced with a mischief of mice. The first is the lethal kind. The bait is a listening ear and the spring-loaded deadly part is the dream killer. Dream killers come in a variety of packages. Some are gentler than others, but all have the same results: what might have been a perfectly good idea is killed.

Angry RatTrue, the perfectly good idea may not have been such a great idea for the church, at least not for this week. However, killing a good idea is rarely a good thing. Most people who have good ideas are as attached to them as a mouse is attached to its tail. Chop off the idea and you’ll likely have a fight on your hands … or at least a disgruntled member to contend with. We’ll defend our ideas to the death if we believe someone’s trying to kill them. Not only that, but if we feel our ideas are being threatened, we’ll redouble our efforts to gather support to defend them from the “enemy.” And make no mistake about it, if you try to kill their ideas you’ve become the enemy.

Unbeknownst to him, Kent was already mid-stride in making a slew of enemies. With each stroke of his red pen he was slaying one idea after another. Sure, some were personal preferences crudely disguised as a good idea, but each was some congregational cat’s personal pet mouse. In only a few minutes he’d pared the list down considerably.

  • Get rid of the screen
  • Bring back the green carpet
  • Pastor should be available in the office Monday through Friday
  • No beverages in the sanctuary
  • Replace the pews with theater seating
  • We like being a small church – stop trying to grow

In principle, we’d agree these ideas needed to go. None of them would take the church to a faithful or sustainable future. But there were better, more effective ways to deal with these mice – even those “mice” that were terrible ideas.