A Time for Innovation in the Church? Maybe not yet.
Robb Warren and his wife Lois are the directors at Global Leadership Network Canada. GLN Canada annually convenes the Global Leadership Summit and helps influencers become transformational leaders in churches and communities throughout Canada.
It has been a confusing and complicated 8 months in leadership.
We’ve been living in a cycle of pivoting, planning, adjusting course, re-adjusting course, etc. It’s a combination of exhausting and exciting – but if we are honest, mostly exhausting.
During this unique time in history, we are hearing with increasing strength, voices calling out for the church to innovate. We all know that cracks have been exposed to our current practices and methods, and it’s become increasingly clear what we are getting right and what we need to improve on. But, where and when do we start working on the solutions?
As a leader, here are 3 areas to consider when you start thinking about innovating in your church.
Have you taken ample time to Reflect? Not just 2020, but really reflect on the last 5 years.
Have you seen the fruit you expected to see? Why or why not? What has been most fruitful? What has struggled to take root and grow?
How is your health? Spiritual, physical, emotional?
How are your relationships?
Reflection is the starting point of any course adjustment. For leaders, this isn’t always our natural starting point – if you are like me, you’ll likely want to jump into the next opportunity. The stakes are too high this time to take that approach. Too many of us are exhausted and depleted. Too many of us know that our work in the church has become more demanding and difficult, with often less obvious fruit from our efforts. Our starting point must be to slow down, dig below the surface, and find out what is going on. Take account of your current state.
What does a healthy, fruitful life look like 3 years from now?
Can you picture a future where you and your ministry are thriving? Define thriving. Bring others around you. Can they see this future with you? How about your spouse and friends - can they catch the vision with you? If they can, likely others, including your board, will see it too!
3. Your Tribe
Who is on the journey with you? The way forward will be complex. It will take significant time to lead your congregation through the changes that will be necessary. As Matthew Kelly wrote in his book The Long View:
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade.”
Working with the “long view” in mind requires a tribe.
So, have thought about who could be in your network that is going to help you with change management, encourage you to persevere when you are ready to quit, and keep your vision focused and clear?
So, is it time to innovate? No question... the time is coming. But are you ready to innovate? Now is the time to prepare your leadership for the innovation that lies ahead. Take time over the next couple of weeks or months to reflect, focus your vision, and think about building a tribe for the journey ahead.
What We Are Reading
Megachurch 2020: The Changing Reality in America’s Largest Churches
Warren Bird and Scott Thumma
Bigger is not always better. Still, this new report documents several useful data-driven insights from larger congregations that churches of all sizes might benefit from. On the whole, the following realities (as examples) are more prevalent in megachurches today than in the past: multiracial congregations, church planting, partnerships with other organizations, small group participation, and neighbourhood and community involvement. There are also several cautionary tales regarding leadership transitions and overall member engagement via attendance or giving patterns. This free online report explores relationships between different data points, and introduces questions that local church leaders might give attention to in their context.
Dr. Joel Thiessen is Professor of Sociology at Ambrose University and Director of the Flourishing Congregations Institute.
Resources for Church Leaders
Researching the Impacts of Covid-19 on Congregations
Several research studies are emerging on the impacts of Covid-19 on congregations. Click Here to learn from these data-driven insights.