Congregations that flourish in Canada do not do so by accident. Through extensive research, Flourishing Congregations has identified key commonalities in churches that are flourishing in Canada. No matter where a church may be on its journey, (decline, start up, stationary, flourishing or otherwise) there is always hope for a brighter future and opportunity for a new season of effective ministry where a church is called to be salt and light.
All flourishing churches have a vision, purpose and/or mission statement, as well these churches also have a strategy or rhythm, which aims to achieve and fulfill their vision and purpose. These key elements in a flourishing church take time and effort to develop. At XP4U we exist to help churches in discovering and realizing their potential to flourish and we do so through a 4U process: uncover, understand, unite and unleash.
In order to move a congregation to a flourishing state it is crucial to uncover the story of the church. Within the history of any local church there are always many things to celebrate. There are stories that reflect values, strengths, victories and more. Before a church pivots to a new, future it is important to uncover the story of the church and be reminded that the church has flourished in the past. This process helps build capacity to rekindle the flames of what was. The intention is to not return to what was, but to build capacity, conviction and resiliency to flourish now and in the future. In this process of uncovering a church’s story there will be themes and values which become the seeds of planting something new.
After rediscovering the values and strengths of a church, a shift is required to gain understanding. A hard and honest look at the world around the church needs to be undertaken. We are in season of unmatched disruption and change and local churches are not immune. Moore’s Law, simply put, is the understanding that a circuit chip’s processing speeds will double within a defined time period. This has now been happening around us for decades and in 2007 the speed of Moore’s Law has increased exponentially, not slowing down since. Such technologies that reflect this are Air BnB, Uber, Snapchat, Instagram and many more. Alice has gone down the hole and there is no return.
As the local church, we need to look out the window and embrace this new reality we are in and aim to understand our unique place in this time. Through a process of understanding our current day and age, we can gain clarity into our particular and unique opportunity of being present to our local community. Clarity is defined by leadership whose job is to describe the current reality and paint a picture of the desired future. Language is crucial to create culture, consensus and commitment and this language needs to be accessible, concise and memorable.
Once clarity begins to emerge it is important to identify a strategic plan for the local church. This will include a new vision, mission, values and strategy. When this new clarity emerges the congregation and leadership can be united through systems that ensure behavior and actions are aligned with the new vision and calling for the church. It will free some congregants to move onto another church and it will galvanize others in commitment and calling to play their part in this new vision.
When the language is agreed upon then we are ready to unleash the power of the leadership and laity. This is done through systems where each person, department or ministry has clarity of their role. Systems help create space for people to serve and function with the vision for the church.
A system creates clarity for what the local community is aiming for but more importantly, it helps facilitate the role of each person in the community. Ultimately, the local church serves the laity to empower them for service, purpose and fulfil their role in the new kingdom. A system empowers individuals to find their role within the local church and be deeply connected to the larger vision of the local church.
Ed Temple is President of XP4U: www.xp4u.ca