Last week I posted and edited version of an article by Thom Rainer on 11 things that helped kill a church.
This week let’s look at the other side of the coin — an article by Carey Nieuwhof. In addition to serving as Lead Pastor at Connexus Community Church north of Toronto Canada, Carey Nieuwhof speaks at conferences and churches throughout North America on leadership, family, parenting and personal renewal.
Here is the edited version:
Here’s what I see as hallmarks of the churches that will make an impact in the next decade:
1. The ability to say no.
One of the reasons churches don’t change is because leaders are unwilling to say no to current members who prefer things the way they were. When you learn to say no to the preferences of some current members, you learn to say yes to a community that is ready to be reached.
2. Outsider focus.
Churches that become passionate about people outside their walls will be far more effective than churches that are passionate about keeping the few people they have inside their walls. Better still, you will have a healthier church.
We all know that those who are fixated on their wants and needs to the exclusion of others are basically selfish and immature.
Selfless and mature churches will have an impact because of their passion for people God cares about.
3. Quick decision making.
Can your church or organizations make quick decisions? If not, amend your constitution so you can. If the congregation needs to vote on everything, just realize this is going to be your achilles heel when it comes to making the changes you need to make. This is a fast moving world and those who can react to community needs quickly are more apt to be seen as truly caring and concerned.
You don’t need to change your mission (for the most part), but you do need to change your methods. (for example I — C.Hahlen — never though I would move away from the Daytimer paper calendar and planner. When it got to the point of weighing over 8 pounds — hello smart phone! )
Flexible and adaptable churches that can innovate around strategy and different initiatives will have the freedom to make the changes they need to make an impact moving forward.
5. A willingness to embrace smaller to become bigger.
Megachurches will continue to grow, but most of us won’t lead megachurches.
When small churches stop trying to be megachurches, good things can happen.
In fact, more and more larger churches will start embracing smaller venues, locations and partnerships to keep growing. A greater number of smaller venues might be a hallmark of future churches making an impact.
6. A quicker, lighter footprint.
Churches need a quicker, lighter footprint to grow. If you’re waiting for millions to build your building, you might wait forever.
Get innovative and start looking at portable and nontraditional ways of growing your ministry.
7. Valuing online relationships as real relationships.
Churches that aren’t online beyond a website are going to miss the boat. Real interaction with real people online is … well … real.
Sure, face to face is deeper, but people will tell you things online they can’t muster the courage to tell you face to face.
Whether you get them to a ‘real’ church is increasingly debatable. I would love that. But we’ll have to see. As much as you might hate it, virtual relationships are becoming real relationships.
8. An openness to questions.
Most unchurched people today come in with questions that seem weird to those of us who spent a lifetime in church. Don’t try to answer them right away.
Churches that understand that embracing questions is as important as providing immediate answers will make an impact in the future.
We’re discovering that if you embrace questions, the answers eventually find their way into people’s lives. The Holy Spirit actually does move in people’s lives.
9. A high value on experimentation.
The more traditional you are, the less you will value experimentation. The more successful you are, the less you will value experimentation. If you start to raise the value of experimentation, you will accelerate change and flexibility.
The churches that connect with their community will be the churches willing enough to try a variety of things, and who also have the courage to kill them as soon as they stop producing results.
10. Prioritizing a “for you” not “from you” culture.
Andy Stanley often talks about what he wants for people, not just what he wants from them.
Churches in decline often think in terms of what they can get from people — money, time, growth, etc.(How can we make $$ from dinners or rummage sales…. that sort of thing)
Churches that will make an impact on the future will be passionate about what they want for people — financial balance, generosity, the joy of serving, better families and, of course, Christ at the center of everyone’s life.
11. A tailored experience, not a tailored message.
You don’t have to tailor the message to unchurched people, but churches that have an impact will tailor the experience.
There were presents under my tree last Christmas. But I’m not a shopping mall fan. Ninety percent of my gift buying happened online. The content was the same — the experience changed. Churches that decide they will hold the message sacred but tailor the experience to an ever shifting culture will be more effective.
That’s what I see. What else do you see?