We all feel drawn to churches that are positive, upbeat places with high morale. Those are the successful churches, right? So it's hard to know how to take the Teacher in Ecclesiastes when he says "Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart." (7:3) Following are 5 reasons to be concerned about insisting on high morale.
High morale can come at a high price.
When morale is low and there is nothing in the circumstances of the church to lift the congregation's spirits, the leadership of the church feels it is up to them to boost morale on their own. But the same downward pressure affecting the rest of the church applies to the leadership of the church and even more so. For the leadership of the church to boost everyone else's spirits is like trying to lift off the ground the pallet you're standing on. Leaders in this situation are more likely to burn themselves out than to make a big and lasting difference in the climate of their churches.
High morale can strike a jarring note
You're visiting a shabby church. The items on the bulletin board were outdated a year ago. The people who are there showed up at the last minute and look as if they're ready to leave at the mere mention of a benediction. And then from the pulpit you hear the preacher do his best rah-rah performance. "Amazing things," it would seem, are happening throughout the church. If the circumstances of the church don't match the signals the church is giving, the incongruity can seem weird and off-putting.
High morale can mess up the story you're trying to tell.
Church life at many churches can feel like a movie being filmed almost entirely in the valley, but saddled with an exclusively mountain top sort of soundtrack. For God's best story to unfold in your church in a way that people can understand and experience while it's happening, you need to be prepared for the soundtrack at times to dip into the minor keys.
High morale can be exhausting.
Even when it happens naturally and organically, the experience of high morale uses the sort of muscles a church didn't know it had. To sustain that feeling indefinitely would probably be unwise even were it possible. If you're feeling tired of the incessant smiling, cut yourself some slack. Pause to breath and reflect. Be sober. The smile will be where you left it when you're ready to resume it.
High morale is an "all these things" item
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells his followers not to worry about the things they're prone to worry about because God knows they need them. Instead, he says, make God's business (His kingdom and His righteousness) your concern, and he will make your business His concern. He will see to it that "all these things are added unto you." Our job is to lift Jesus high, not our morale. The higher Jesus gets elevated the higher (and more easily) our morale will swell in the wake of our ascending and triumphant Savior.
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