Making The SHIFT: Field Notes From a New Church

Author Mark Tidsworth has provided an essential resource for churches struggling to be faithful and relevant in our 21st century North American context. Appropriately titled: SHIFT: Three Big Moves For the 21st Century Church, Tidsworth winsomely helps his readers understand our rapidly changing ministry context and then challenges his readers to make three essential ‘shifts’ that will renew the Church and expand the God’s Kingdom.

Two years ago, when I arrived in Leland, NC to plant what is now The Bridge Presbyterian Church, we developed a congregation-wide process of discernment with the goal of creating eight core habits of disciples at the bridge. Similar to a Rule of Life (See SHIFT pp 68- 78) we invite everyone who joins the bridge to commit to embodying these eight habits. Similarly, we use these eight habits to answer the question: What does a disciple of Jesus Christ look like around here (See SHIFT p2 7 79 – 88)? SHIFT was an indispensable resource for helping us craft these eight core habits.

A new church is fertile ground for inviting Christ-followers to make wholesale ‘shifts’ in theology and praxis. Our process for crafting our eight core habits was simple. First, I created a sermon series that focused on the three shifts Mark outlines in his book: from Member Identity to Disciple Identity; from Attractional Church to Missional Church; and from Consumer Church to Sacred Partnering.

Second, each week (after the sermon was preached) five small groups of people gathered to discuss the sermon and relevant scripture passages. Each group was asked to submit a one sentence summary of their discussion that could be used to craft a core habit for our new church. Third, a team was assembled to redact the one sentence summaries into eight spiritual habits that would help define who we are as a new congregation. The end result are these eight core habits:

Eight Core Habits of The Bridge Presbyterian Church

➢ We will…Pray daily
➢ We will…Worship together weekly
➢ We will…Give generosity
➢ We will…Forgive & reconcile continually
➢ We will…Welcome & include everyone
➢ We will…Belong to a small group
➢ We will…Serve Others
➢ We will…Cherish Children

As you might expect, our efforts to embody these spiritual habits and to embrace the ‘shifts’ outlined in the book are VERY imperfect. The eight spiritual habits we crafted are a work in progress. So, we constantly discuss these habits with our leadership team; in our Join The Bridge Class and from the pulpit. We have just begun a new sermon series focusing on our core habits: Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For: Habits Connecting Us to God.

After chatting with Mark, our hunch is that it might be beneficial to the Pinnacle community to provide a glimpse of how one new church is trying, imperfectly, to make the SHIFT. For the next few weeks, I will be providing dispatches outlining our attempt to put into practice the SHIFTS outlined in Mark Tidsworth’s book. The goal is to generate conversation, spur creativity and listen to the struggles and joys of others who are passionate about gathering disciples who want to join God on mission in the world.

Doug Cushing
Pinnacle Associate
Pastor, The Bridge Presbyterian Church