Ten Reasons Why a Church Might Not be Ready for Renewal
When confronted with challenges most church leaders and members expect a quick fix. Getting ready to cultivate the missional church will need to challenge this expectation.
Shaped by vendor expectations of the church most leaders and members look for church programming to have a clear beginning, end and predictable middle. Processes of discernment are by nature much more open ended and need to be responsive to the Spirit. Getting ready for processes of transformation will help shape expectations, integrate processes into the whole of church life and help leaders and members become more comfortable with the ambiguity that comes with learning.
Most members of churches today come to church with expectations that are shaped more by popular culture than Christian heritage; operating understandings of church are often unexamined and untested yet drive the ways people participate in the life of the church. Getting ready for transformation will help members begin to surface and test some of their assumptions.
Long-standing patterns of church life have left the majority of church members biblically and theologically illiterate. Getting ready to cultivate the missional church can invite strengthening of members’ theological muscle and skill.
Most churches have a schedule that is filled to capacity with activities. Burnout and excessive demands on leaders and members are common. Getting ready to cultivate a missional renewal will require clarifying what will not happen as a church prepares itself for a season of prayer, study and discernment.
Decision making in many churches today is characterized by a win/lose climate. Key leaders lack collaborative leadership skills needed to guide broadly participative processes of discernment. Getting ready will mean fostering new skills that cultivate the common life of the church.
Some churches are deeply mired in a survival mode. Getting ready to cultivate a missional church will invite abandonment of this self-centered and self-fulfilling preoccupation and willingness to ask some different questions in search of God’s vision for its future.
Frequent pastoral transitions are a way of life for some denominations and congregations. Getting ready to cultivate the missional church will require attention to creating a level of stability, commitment and trust as leaders and members engage in a journey of renewal.
Current expectations of members and behavior by clergy and staff in many churches reinforce unhelpful understandings and practices for staff-driven program and ministry. Getting ready to cultivate the missional church will help leaders and members name those patterns and hear anew the Gospel call to be the Body of Christ and People of God.
The lack of a shared vision, or the presence of competing visions within the life of a church, can lead to conflict or the absence of excitement and momentum in mission. Getting ready for transformation includes honestly naming current tensions and gaps to claim them as issues that must be addressed.