Continuing our discussion about change in the church, this from Sam Rainer’s CHURCH FORWARD blog.

HURDLES TO ESTABLISHED CHURCH INNOVATION

Does the established nature of some churches hinder innovation? Is an established structure antithetical to quick, nimble changes? For most established churches, yes, but it does not mean established churches cannot innovate.

A church plant is an innovation. Innovation is the process of successfully establishing something new. To introduce something new—and to get it to work longer than a month—is innovation. Perhaps some luck into the right change at the right time. Perhaps some churches land on the right demographic with the right leadership. Not all innovations are intentional or well-planned. But an effective church plant should be noted as innovation.

As organizations become more established, they tend to be less prone to change. By its nature, an established organization has a system in place that pushes against change. To establish is to create firm stability. Churches need stability. For example, a discipleship process that is not rooted into the culture of the church (or established) is not likely to last long. And it’s only a matter of time before the innovative church plant begins to feel the pull of becoming established. Everything is new only once, after all.

While stability is necessary, every church should also innovate. Established churches, in particular, can take comfort in the establishment. Traditions and history can easily become a guise for complacency. Innovation can take a back seat to the entrenched processes that help create the stability. While most church planters will admit to having many of the same people problems as established churches, church plants do innovate more easily. They have no history pulling them in a certain direction. Everyone is new. The church is new. Each decision is new. In the early days of a church plant, everything feels like an innovation even if it’s not.

So what hurdles to innovation exist in the established church? Here are four examples.

Lack of intentionality. Generally, established churches have more resources than new churches. When resources are limited, churches must be more intentional about innovation. Failure—especially one that is expensive—can quickly derail a church with limited resources. When resources are plentiful, the temptation is to be less intentional. Established churches can generally absorb more failures. But a practice of spaghetti-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks is not true innovation. It’s haphazard chaos. Give it a month and see how many people get annoyed.

Lack of originality. Build on your foundation, but don’t slap a new logo on an existing program and call it innovation. Innovation is introducing something new, not introducing something with the façade of newness.

The wrong metrics. What gets measured gets done, and what you measure is typically an indicator of what you value. A mature church will measure different things than a new church. Most church plants are not attempting to track down meeting minutes from a dozen committees for next week’s business meeting. And established churches don’t have to worry about the retention ratio of people from a launch service. However, an overemphasis on the metrics sustaining the establishment will inevitably deemphasize innovation and dissuade team members from attempting innovation.

The ease of appeasement. In an established church some leaders prefer the ease of appeasing members rather than innovating to reach new people. Obviously, a long-term member may not desire to be appeased, but rather challenged. However, most churches have a segment of people who would rather rest in the stability of the establishment. It’s not necessarily a sin issue, and leaders should care about all members whatever their spiritual maturity. Appeasing existing members, however, is much easier than challenging a church to innovate and reach new people. Even in a healthy established church, one ready to reach outward, innovation is a challenge. The typical established church has several groups of people who joined during different seasons of the church for different reasons. Even when people agree to reach outward, getting them to agree on timing, direction, budgeting, and pace is a challenge. It’s easier to appease. But appeasement is never innovation.

Though established churches are not new, they can still introduce new things. They can innovate. Hurdles exist. These hurdles, however, are surmountable.

This post was originally published at my Church Executive blog.

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FACING SACRED COWS

This is a great post by Todd Rhoades with some questions worth asking. = Steve

Poking the Sacred Cow in your church… what should you be asking?
Posted by Todd Rhoades in Leadership on Nov 26th, 2012 | 4 comments

I read an interesting article over at FastCompany this morning about an Australian hotel company that is changing the 11AM checkout rule.You can check out their unbelievably annoying promo for what they are calling the “Overstay Checkout” here:

According to the article, the hotel company started first by looking at their guests biggest gripes: having to check out early (by 11AM).

The truth is… when the hotel was asked why someone HAD to absolutely check out at 11AM if no one else had booked the room the next night, the hotel did not have a good answer.

It appeared to be a sacred cow — something you do but don’t know why.

That got me thinking.

What ‘sacred cow’ questions are we afraid to ask in the church.

Let’s take Sunday’s for example:

1. Why do we HAVE meet on Sundays?

2. Why do we HAVE to meet on Sunday MORNINGS?

3. Why are our services 60 minutes long?

4. Why do we do 30 minutes of music/announcements and 30 minutes of preaching?

5. Why do we use an offering PLATE?

6. Why do we do everything the way we do it?

What is YOUR church’s sacred cow question?

What should you think about changing that would really shake things up?

What groaning/griping to you hear the most from your people? Is this tied in any way, shape, or form to some type of sacred cow question you should be re-asking and re-answering?

Something to think about…

// Read more here…

LAYING A SOLID FOUNDATION WITH PRAYER

BY REID SMITH (REPOSTED FROM WWW.SMALLGROUPS.COM)

Prayer is a vital component of small-group life. It sets up and maintains the health and vibrancy of your group. Sound prayer practices can affect your group in the following ways:

Positively influence how your small-group participants interact and minister to one another

Empower and mobilize your small group to reach out and incorporate spiritually unconvinced people into the body of Christ

Open the hearts of the hurting to God’s healing power

Open the ears of those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ to the gospel message

For these reasons, you should incorporate prayer throughout your small-group meeting. While each meeting should include prayer, you can keep things fresh by changing how you pray.

Prayer Ideas

Ask a small-group participant to open your gathering in prayer.

If you begin your meeting with a meal, pray for your small-group meeting when you pray for the food.

When you welcome the last person, officially open the meeting with a brief prayer.

Begin your study and discussion time with prayers of thanksgiving and praise.

Pray through your church’s weekly bulletin.

Pray immediately after a concern is raised—don’t wait for the official prayer time.

Be as specific as possible when you pray. Say the names of those you’re praying for.

Regularly pray for one another with the laying on of hands, especially when someone is ill (Luke 4:40; Acts 8:17, 28:8b).

Integrate prayer into your worship time. Spend time in thanksgiving, intercession, adoration, and confession.

Designate prayer partners. One way to do this is to have each participant pray for the person on his or her right throughout the week. Ask everyone to touch base with the person he or she is praying for before the next meeting.

11. Share answers to prayer with your small group. This encourages those praying to continue to pray (Acts 4:23-31).

Pray Scripture over a person or the entire small group. You could use Colossians 1:9-14 or Ephesians 3:14-19.

Pray a psalm over a person or the small group. Commit an entire meeting to reading Psalm 119 together.

Designate someone to be the prayer coordinator for your small group. As this person records requests and tracks answers, he or she will be empowered to lead and use his or her gifts to build up the body of Christ. The record of prayer requests will also be an encouragement to small-group participants as they see how God has been working in and through the group.

Set aside a gathering to do a Bible study focused on prayer. Consider using Ephesians 6:10-20 or Colossians 1:9-14.

Confess your shortcomings and pray for one another (1 John 1:9).

Have each person write his or her prayer request on an index card. Then exchange cards. Each participant should pray for the person on the card he or she has.

Fast and pray together. You could set aside a day to do this together, or you could choose to do this separately but at the same time. For instance, small-group members could agree to fast and pray over the lunch hour on Tuesday, wherever they’re at.

Encourage group participants to pray with their bodies. Have them stand with arms raised for praises and kneel for requests.

Close each meeting in prayer.

—Reid Smith is the Community Life Pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the founder of the 2orMore small-group leadership training and resource ministry. Copyright by the author. Used with permission.

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TIM KELLER ON CHURCH SIZE AND LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT

Church Size: Leadership and Management – Tim Keller

Multiplication_CP

One of the best leadership articles I have read in recent years is Tim Keller’s article on Church Size Process Management.  This is a must read for every pastor serious about taking their church to the next level.

Keller writes on importance of this concept…

“One of the most common reasons for pastoral leadership mistakes and missteps is blindness to the significance of church size. Size has an enormous impact on how a church functions. There is a “size culture” that profoundly affects how decisions are made, how relationships flow, how effectiveness is evaluated, what its ministers, staff, and lay leaders do. We tend to think of the chief differences between churches mainly in denominational or theological terms, but that under-estimates                                                               the impact of size on how a church operates.”

Download Kellerchurchsizearticle

CONNECTIONS AND COMMITTMENT

by Stephen L. Dunn

Churches who are vision-focused and mission-disciplined are the most likely to be churches whose ministry is fruitful in dynamic and irresistible ways.  There is a spiritual energy to such churches  that serves as a conduit of God’s grace from a deep well of God’s transforming love.  There is a supernatural reality at work that draws the church forward in life-changing ministry.  It is exciting to be a part of such a church and exhilarating to be one its or pastors or leaders.

The Holy Spirit could and would sustain such a movement except for two factors that emerge from our human nature.  We tend to go it alone in too many things and give little time or attention to our relationships as Christians.  The excuse is often in such a church, “We are busy in the work of the Lord.’ The reality is that as we grow busier we become disconnected from the Body itself robbing one another of the daily support, encouragement, and accountability necessary for human beings to participate in a supernatural work.  And as new people are “added” we often do not take the relational time to assimilate them into the Body, i.e., to connect them. New people who do not become connected early often find the back door.  Long-termers who have grown disconnected drift away.

The other is commitment.  We are not seeking members in this supernatural ministry but fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.  Busy churches, caught up in the energy of a dynamic work, often equate numbers and activity as a measure of success instead of making authentic disciples. Disciples who pray, who serve, who learn from God’s Word, who give, who sacrifice.

Churches that seek to ride the wave of the Spirit over the long haul need to make a commitment to the systems or structures that help embed the DNA on connection and commitment into its people.  Otherwise, God will be leading but we will follow only to a point …

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

Permissions: You have blanket permission to reproduce any original post by STEPHEN DUNN on this blog, as long as it is not altered in any way, is not part of a resource for sale, and proper attribution is made to the author.  A link to this blog is appreciated.  A copy of your use is appreciated as well. Send it to sdunnpastor@coglandisville.org

10 REASONS TO UNDER-PROGRAM YOUR CHURCH

An excellent post from Jared Wilson THE GOSPEL CENTERED CHURCH

10 Reasons to Under-program Your Church

I’m a big fan of the “simple church” concept, but I have experienced just how daunting a task it can be to under-program my church. We are inundated constantly with opportunities for activity from other churches (which we don’t want to turn down lest we appear uncooperative and standoffish), advertised “movements” local and national (which are good at getting people excited), and “good ideas” from our own community (which we are reluctant to deny lest we break someone’s heart). But what all this so often amounts to is a church that is merely busy, and busy does not always equal diligent or successful.Here, then, are 10 reasons to under-program a church:

1. You can do a lot of things in a mediocre (or poor) way, or you can do a few things extremely well. Craig Groeschel has some great things to say about this subject. Also check out Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger’s Simple Church.

2. Over-programming creates an illusion of fruitfulness that may just be busy-ness. A bustling crowd may not be spiritually changed or engaged in mission at all. And as our flesh cries out for works, many times filling our programs with eager, even servant-minded people is a way to appeal to self-righteousness.

3. Over-programming is a detriment to single-mindedness in a community. If we’re all busy engaging our interests in and pursuits of different things, we will have a harder time enjoying the “one accord” prescribed by the New Testament.

4. Over-programming runs the risk of turning a church into a host of extracurricular activities, mirroring the “Type-A family” mode of suburban achievers. The church can become a grocery store or more spiritual YMCA, then, perfect for people who want religious activities on their calendar.

5. Over-programming dilutes actual ministry effectiveness. Because it can overextend leaders, increase administration, tax the time of church members, and sap financial and material resources from churches.

6. Over-programming leads to segmentation among ages, life stages, and affinities, which can create divisions in a church body. Certainly there are legitimate reasons for gathering according to “likenesses,” but many times increasing the number of programs means increasing the ways and frequencies of these separations. Pervasive segmentation is not good for church unity or spiritual growth.

7. Over-programming creates satisfaction in an illusion of success; meanwhile mission suffers. If a church looks like it’s doing lots of things, we tend to think it’s doing great things for God. When really it may just be providing lots of religious goods and services. This is an unacceptable substitute for a community on mission, but it’s one we accept all the time. And the more we are engaged within the four walls of the church, whether those walls are literal or metaphorical, the less we are engaged in being salt and light. Over-programming reduces the access to and opportunities with my neighbors.

8. Over-programming reduces margin in the lives of church members. It’s a fast track to burnout for both volunteers and attendees, and it implicitly stifles sabbath.

9. Over-programming gets a church further away from the New Testament vision of the local church. Here’s a good test, I think: take a look at a typical over-programmed church’s calendar and see how many of the activities resemble things seen in the New Testament.

10. Over-programming is usually the result of un-self-reflective reflex reactions to perceived needs and and an inability to kill sacred cows that are actually already dead. Always ask “Should we?” before you ask “Can we?” Always ask “Will this please God?” before you ask “Will this please our people?” Always ask “Will this meet a need?” before you ask “Will this meet a demand?”