I was reading a book called Real Good Church, the new entry in the church revitalization field. At the heart of one of the foundational principles that enabled a church to grow from 35 members to 300+ was a willingness to take risks. It recognizes that to grow a church means the church and staff need to take risks. With risks comes the fact that sometimes you try new things that end up not working, or causing people to be unhappy and maybe so upset that they choose to leave.
This willingness to do the things that might be perceived as failures or losses is the only way to do the things that also lead to new beginnings, new ministries, new energies. Churches that are “stuck”, not being able to grow or are on a downward trend, often exhibit the trait of an unwillingness to take risks or adopt changes that will help it grow. These churches are more worried about what might be lost rather than what might be gained. The sadness about this perception is that it guarantees that what people are trying to hold onto the most will, in the end, be lost anyway, since the concurrent downturn in enthusiasm or worry about tomorrow becomes less and less attractive to anyone new who might walk through the door.
As a parent I learned the hard lessons that now matter how much I might want my child to adopt the way I do things as the way they would do things, it just doesn’t work that way. And that is true in church as well. No matter how much we may want to keep everything the same, believing that if we only do what we did in the past, just with new found energy, that certainly people will be attracted to it. But it just doesn’t work that way.
Church growth depends on a lot of things, but one of the really important things is to take some risks, make changes that are hard to make but give a better hope for success. Over the next few months I am going to begin doing some things that might take you into unknown territory or to use a common phrase, out of your comfort zone. It is important for you to consider some new ways of doing things in hopes of finding a stronger, better future for yourselves and to position yourself for your pastoral search which will begin sometime in 2015. Remember always, my door is open, my phone number is listed. Let me know how you feel about what you are experiencing. Blessings