From Visioning To Transformation, Part 2
Mark Tidsworth, Pinnacle President
Last E-News we described how visioning and strategic planning have run out of steam, at least as ways to invigorate a lethargic church. That article traced the influences which make this so. That article also described what most churches need in this current ministry environment far more than visioning….transformation. Given the world we currently find ourselves in, perhaps our vision should be, “to become an adaptive organism, living into relevant and faithful expressions of ourselves as church in this current community context.” To state it bluntly, so many churches must adapt….or die.
So, here’s what we recommend – enter a congregational transformation process. No, this road is not without its twists and turns, not without its steep climbs and strenuous terrain. Yet, this road cultivates multiple opportunities to come alive in your collective faith journeys followed by shifting and changing in mission-congruent ways. These are the components needed in a solid, actionable, and effective transformation process.
A Spiritually-Focused Approach – You are going to need a strong faith for this. The faith of many churches is not invigorated enough to motivate or sustain transformation. So, the transformation process itself must include spiritual enrichment, cultivation, and engagement. Becoming a spiritually enlivened church is an integral part of church transformation (to state the obvious, which too many don’t see).
A Transformation Focused Agreement – Certainly transformation can happen without this, but it is far less likely. We recommend an overt, written, clearly understood transformation covenant agreement between your church, your transformation process leaders, and your community of practice.
A Clear And Actionable Transformation Process – Avoid launching a transformation process with a nebulous approach. The resulting confusion can be worse than not starting. Find a really good process, with strong leadership. Of course we are biased, yet we recommend our Transforming Church Initiatives at https://www.pinnlead.com/initiatives).
A Community Of Practice – Don’t fall for the worn-out idea that you can or must go it alone. When it comes to significant change, we do this best in community. Partner with other churches engaging the same transformation process and discover great synergy, encouragement, support, and accountability.
A Specific Time – Transformation processes are typically designed for specific times, like one or two years. The reasoning behind this approach is that churches can sustain seasons of intense engagement, yet need Sabbath seasons just like the rest of us. Choose a transformation process with a starting and ending point, realizing that a good transformation process increases your ability to adapt after the process itself is completed.
Desired Outcomes – What are we looking for here? What are the anticipated outcomes of effective transformation processes? Well, there are no guarantees when we march off down that road. At the same time, we do have genuine hopes and inspired aspirations. The following are frequent outcomes when transformation processes are vigorously engaged.
· Permission and blessing to experiment, risk, and try out new ways of being church
· Spiritual invigoration
· Stronger congregational connections and relationships
· Clearer vision for being church
· Accurate understandings of our current ministry context
· Healthy mission-focused urgency
· More engaged disciples
· Raised hope and morale
· Increased joy
Rather than list more, we hope you will explore what your church needs now, without assuming the answers. Whether you engage one of our TCIs or another transformation process, we encourage you to find a process which matches the needs of your church and the seasons of our lives. This good news of the gospel is too good to hide under an outdated cultural bushel basket. It’s time to let the light of the gospel shine, embodied by robust expressions of God’s Church.