The difference between a “can do” church and a “can’t do” church

By Sam S. Rainer III

Blog-352_GraveEvery church has an organizational culture. Some churches have a culture of optimism. You can feel the energy in worship. Others are pessimistic. You can sense the deadness when you walk into the sanctuary. A dead sanctuary should be an oxymoron, but I’ve experienced “worship” in a few zombie churches. The walking spiritually dead show up to utter a few grunts, gaze around, and shuffle back home.

Every church also faces obstacles. What is the difference between churches that approach obstacles with a “can do” attitude over others that have a “can’t do” attitude? What makes a church have a lively optimism over a dead pessimism?

We’re the right size. The people of the “can’t do” congregation believe the church is too small (or large) to accomplish something. The “can do” church is always the right size. Church size is not an issue for an optimistic church.

We have the right people. The “can’t do” church sees the people it doesn’t have as a problem. The “can do” church sees the people it has as an opportunity.

It’s always the right time. The “can’t do” church is stuck in the past or asleep dreaming about the future. The “can do” church believes now is the time to act.

We have the right staff. The “can’t do” congregation believes it must get staffing correctly aligned before ministry can be accomplished. The “can do” congregation doesn’t ignore needed staffing changes but also keeps moving forward with whatever staff is in place.

We have the exact resources God wants us to have. The “can’t do” church believes more money is needed. The “can do” church does ministry with whatever resources God has provided.

The “can’t do” church views insufficiencies as an obstacle. The “can do” church believes in the sufficiency of God. When a culture of pessimism lingers, the walking spiritually dead take over. With a culture of optimism, however, churches maintain a “can do” attitude that champions the gospel.

sam_s_rainer_IIISam S. Rainer III serves as president of Rainer Research (, a firm dedicated to providing answers for better church health. He also is the senior pastor at Stevens Street Baptist Church in Cookeville, TN. He writes, speaks, and consults on church health issues. You can connect with Sam at @samrainer or at his blog,


One Response to “The difference between a “can do” church and a “can’t do” church”

  1. Thanks San for your insight! It’s with sadness that I’ve been part of a leadership that has allowed the “can’t do” for so long, it’s oozes out our doors and windows and sucks the life out of my bones. Is it possible we may be at the point of no return?

Leave a Reply

HTML Snippets Powered By :