Written by Derrick Jones, July 3, 2021
On the surface, the above title might sound like a good thing, but in my view, it is not. Let me elaborate on what I consider a “Root Bound” Church. A plant becomes root bound when it sits in its original pot for too long and becomes entangled with each another. Transferring the plant to a larger container or the ground is of little benefit because the roots are too entangled to spread out to the surrounding soil containing moisture and nutrients. This plant becomes starved to the point that it will eventually wither and die. I have observed this happening in congregations or fellowships that operate in a vacuum. They become disconnected from others as they attempt to work independently, not realizing that the nutrients and moisture vital for their growth lie outside their entangled roots.
Why do many churches operate this way year after year? I believe there are several reasons. The first reason has to do with pride and conceit. Some are misguided in thinking that their church is the only legitimate, or the most legitimate, ministry in their area. They are additionally mistaken when they believe that other ministries offer nothing (of benefit) for their growth, maturity, or health. Another way pride rears its ugly head is the presumption that specific agendas or methods must be universal and that all other ministry approaches are wrong or inferior. Thus, the other ministry must be willing to abandon its beliefs and practices because, after all, theirs is the “better” church – having the better way.
Secondly, there is fear. Some are afraid that interacting with other ministries may open the door for members to leave for “another church.” A loss of members means losing talent, resources, and (coughs to clear the throat) financial contributors. They fear the impact on already scarce resources, the bottom line, and paid staff may become concerned about job security.
Thirdly, some can’t conceive working with another ministry collaboratively. Some leaders view collaboration with other ministries as a threat to their existence. Fear can often give way to a deep-seated mistrust and unwillingness to even consider working with others outside of their congregation or fellowship. Unfortunately, those who think this way often view other ministries as competitors or rivals rather than brothers and sisters in Christ. These sectarian attitudes cause many to miss the celebration of the baptisms that Jesus rejoices over - because they are not happening in their congregation or fellowship. There are too many souls to reach for us to be thinking this way. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Let us go out into the field together – working for the Lord and not for ourselves!