Every Church Needs to Change: how to get there from here

The Flying Tortoise- The Remarkable Old Wooden Churches of Northern RussiaWhether Ninety or One Year Old,
Every Church Needs to Change

I’ve been thinking of writing this post since last Thursday. It occurred to me on Saturday, that with the exception of #8, all of these would apply to any church, of any size, and any age. Even #8 could apply to younger churches.

The discussion was prompted by a seminar participant at a recent Dynamic Church Planting International training in Wisconsin. A pastor of a 90 year-old-church set in patterns of thinking and methodology that weighed it down from effective ministry, but the task to change the paradigm seemed enormous. “How do you help a 90 year old church make the transition from maintenance to multiplication?”

It was a great question and a significant discussion ensued.

Here’s the summary of that discussion in a bulleted list with some added commentary by yours truly.

  1. Pray. (Every solution starts with prayer)
  2. Teach. (“You teach your way out of every problem.” –Rick Warren)
  3. Find “Claude.” (This one is based on an old John Maxwell story. Find the men and women who are the opinion moderators in the church. Love them. Respect them. Hear them.)
  4. Facing Resistance? Back people into the word of God. (Move from personal decisions to biblical decisions.)
  5. Be patient. (Old paradigms don’t die easily. Give it time. We tend to overestimate what we can do on a year, but underestimate what we can do in five.)
  6. Don’t denigrate, celebrate. (Be careful to not denigrate the past. Sometimes, without any intentionality, what we communicate when we suggest change is that the old way was bad, or unbiblical, or stupid, or short sighted, or … That’s not what we mean to communicate but that is the perception. Combat this perception by celebrating the past victories and then do number 7 …)
  7. Challenge the church to move from glory to glory.  (With patience [#5 above], build a vision of moving from the glory of the past accomplishments of the churches to a future of new accomplishments and glories for Christ.)
  8. Challenge the church to “Be a Sarah.” (Challenge them, like Abraham’s Sarah, to give birth to new churches, new ministries with the new opportunities of a new generation.)

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