The ADHD Church: 8 Signs You May be Leading One

Every parent knows a child who has ADHD. My son, Josh, was diagnosed with it when he was in elementary school. He couldn’t pay attention or stay focused. And he couldn’t quit talking in class. Today we joke that he spent more time in the hallway than in the classroom because the teachers kept sending him there to keep him quiet. Neuroscientists believe that an imbalance of brain chemistry in the brain’s pleasure center contributes to the inability to sit still, listen for any length of time, or delay immediate gratification.

Some churches, too, are afflicted with traits similar to someone with ADHD. What does an ADHD church look like?

I’ve listed 8 qualities that characterize one.

  1. Leaders quickly embrace the latest church growth fad they learned at their last church conference.
  2. Leaders look for the next church “killer app” they believe will take their church to the next level. A leader once told me he was looking for such a “killer app.”
  3. Subtle expectations for each Sunday service to out-shine, out-excite and out-spirit the prior service.
  4. A flavor-of-the-month mentality that results in constant change to its vision, focus, and programs; an inability to stay the course for any length of time.
  5. People who silently compare their pastor to uber-successful, charismatic pastors in large churches.
  6. A church with a history of either short pastorates or a history of pastors terminated for various reasons.
  7. The expectation from people is, “what did I get out of today’s service,” versus “what did I add to the service.” In other words, ADHD churches are filled with people who subconsciously believe, “It’s all about me.”
  8. Parents who expect a perpetual whiz-bang youth ministry.

I don’t mean to appear cynical, but our consumer-focused society has influenced our church culture. Many expect their churches to immediately entertain and gratify, rather than challenge to holiness and discipleship. Sometimes we leaders have fostered this consumer mentality. Sometimes it’s simply a result of our culture’s influence.

I plan to write a future blog on how we can counter ADHD in our churches. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What have you discovered that has helped your church become less of an ADHD church?


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