Perhaps you've heard of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). Tim Stevens @ http://www.leadingsmart.com shares some observations in regards to dealing with failure.
Sometimes there are rational reasons for failure, but if you continue to explain it away over time, it begins to look like an excuse rather than a reason. You can justify a week or even an entire season...but it's difficult to justify trends that are happening over time.
When we don't like what the data says, it is so easy to question its' validity. We look deep for one anomaly. We find the one piece where we can cast doubt on the data...thus causing a large shadow over all the findings. Then it makes it easier to say everything is okay. The problem isn't the church, it's the data.
In our frustration, we blame the people. We might even design messages with a prophetic tone to get them to be better, stronger and more committed. Rather than lead them through the difficulty, we preach them through it.
Instead of figuring out why we keep missing the target, we just move the target to the location where our arrows are landing.
- Lead. At some point, we decide to lead. We stop blaming, questioning, justifying or redefining--and we hunker down and lead through the crisis. We figure out what is wrong and we get on our faces before God, and we begin to fix it. We face the really tough data and talk about the facts of our situation which might be embarrasing or self-condemning. We acknowledge where we are wrong and we get risky and determine to try some stuff to get back on track. We stick our necks out and cancel some stuff that has perceived success, and add some stuff that has no historical track record. We work through the feeling of failure, the muddy conversations and awkward staff meetings. We don't jump ship because the waters are suddenly rocky. No, instead we rally the troops, and we do what leaders do in times of crisis...we lead.