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5 Characteristics of Churches that Change

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Over the past 7 years working with the Unstuck Group I’ve consulted with all kinds of churches. Small churches, large churches, single site churches and multisite churches, churches that are denominationally entrenched and non-denominational churches, urban churches, rural churches and yes suburban churches.

Many of those churches have gone on to get unstuck and produce all kinds of great fruit, seeing many people meet Jesus and experiencing a reinvigorated season of ministry.

Unfortunately, not every church gets unstuck, but for those that do there are some common characteristics that I’ve observed.

Personal Ownership

Churches that change and get unstuck take personal ownership. They don’t blame previous leaders, they don’t blame the economy, they don’t blame what’s happening in their community, they don’t blame the people attending the church, and they don’t even blame the devil. Churches that change get to the point where they stop making excuses for not growing and reaching new people for Jesus. These churches don’t play the role of a victim. These church leaders intuitively know that you can’t change what you can’t control…and they know you can’t control much…but you can control your attitude, your effort, and your approach. These churches are willing to change all three of those things.

Justice Oriented

Somewhere along the line the leaders of churches that experience real genuine change acquire a holy discontent with the status quo. They begin to see that staying where they are and doing things the way they’ve been doing them would actually be wrong. Maybe even sinful. A sense of justice rises up in them prompting them forward to a new future with a different approach that produces different results.

Courage

Churches that actually change understand that change is going to be difficult. They know that it’s going to be painful. They know that not everyone is going to go with them on this new journey to reach people far from Jesus. They often times even admit that it’s going to be a bit scary. They simply have the courage to do it anyway.

Action Oriented

Often times these churches have gotten stuck because they’ve been risk adverse or more oriented towards keeping people they already have happy as opposed to doing new things to reach new people. Every church that I’ve seen change and get unstuck has adopted a new approach that has required them to take new action.

Strong Point Leadership

Something that I consistently see in churches that get unstuck and change is that they’re led by strong Sr. Pastors. Now don’t hear what I’m not saying. They’re not all led by dynamic communicators or incredibly gifted leaders. But they are led by Sr. Pastors who are strong and are willing to leverage whatever gifts God has given them to move the ball forward. Often times that simply means that they’ve accumulated relational trust over a long period of time and they’re willing to cash that trust in to move the church forward. Instead of riding off quietly into the sunset they’re willing to go out with their guns blazing so to speak.


Posted in Leadership

2 Responses to “5 Characteristics of Churches that Change”

  1. Bud Brown June 9, 2019 at 7:17 am #

    You’ve omitted one of the primary characteristics of churches that change; it may even be the hallmark. In our practice we have found that a crisis must precipitate the church’s willingness to let go before paradigm change – which leads to ministry change – can occur.

    Fortunately, this crisis or point of unendurable pain only needs to be felt by 15 to 20% of the congregation – those who lead or exert influence.

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