I remember when I was first learning about strategic planning they said, “it starts with a plan for planning.” That made me laugh and sounded like a waste of time. Boy was I wrong.
Now as we consider support the life of the Church it takes on even more importance. These have become important questions for us.
- What does “renewal” mean? Renewal for what? These are not quickly answered questions. In my experience as soon that question is asked, everyone has a different assumption. Some are immediately hopeful while other are immediately skeptical.
- How does the conversation about renewal get started? Who is involved? And why would we want to do this? Is this something that only a few go away to talk about and decide on? Then they come back to the congregation to tell and sell? There is an old adage that goes something like this, “No one is lazy in implementing a vision unless it is someone else.”
- Does asking the question about renewal mean we are broken and need fixing? Not broken. As Christians we believe that God is providing all the gifts, we need to be faithfully the church now. How do we access these gifts? How can this negative assumption get reframed?
- Why would we want to begin a time of renewal? What are the motivations, the compelling reasons? Building awareness, motivation, and commitment within the congregation at the beginning is essential for the success of a time of renewal. There is a big difference between a “survival driven” motivation for renewal vs a church seeking to be “Vision led.”
- It is amazing how much the renewal conversation changes when it begins with God. It was God’s ideal for us to be the church. Asking the question, what is God calling us to be and do in this time and place is a world away from a survey asking members what they want the church to be like. You get favorite program ideas, or fears of change. But often miss the new ways God is inviting us to understand what “success, faithful and fruitful” mean for us in the now.
- If a time of renewal is to be a success what are the goals, we would hope to achieve? Clarity about what God and the church seeks to achieve in a time of renewal provides focus and helps us design the process that can deliver those outcomes.
- When the church engages in a time of renewal, what changes, programs, music, staff, … or is it really the hearts and minds of all of us? Can you imagine whole new ways of thinking, understanding and being the church?
- Getting ready for renewal helps us distinguish that we are not just a place, or even the program, but at heart we are the loved, blessed, called, and sent people participating in God’s mission for the sake of the world God so loves.
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