Pete Scazzero, founding pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in New York and founder of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, answers the question, “How can churches remain agile in the midst of an ever-changing culture?”
Culture is changing rapidly, but I don’t think that should surprise us. It’s part of life—the world is moving, shifting. So the church needs leaders who have depth and a strong inner life with God, who have the courage to lead the church into the future. It takes a high level of differentiation; it takes a strong ability to hear the Holy Spirit. You must be a disciple of depth, doing your inner journey so you can lead the whole church into an inner journey and respond to the challenges going on externally.
And so the only way we’re going to shift is if we get very serious about discipleship. It’s going to be a slow burn, a mustard seed that’s very powerful. It’s going to take leaders who are very anchored in God and thus don’t get blown here and there. The agility we’re looking for comes out of a deep spirituality. Without that, we’re simply shuffling chairs on the Titanic. Nothing’s going to change. We as leaders need to get deeply anchored, and then we can lead and bring agility to the task before us. When I think of agility, I think of the ability to do practical theology in new situations.
My concern is sustainability for the next generation and the generation that will follow. I think that’s the real test of the fruit of our work. That’s a larger question than just, “Will I get enough people to show up this Sunday in the pews?” It has to spring from a different source than new techniques or new programs. No program is going to work without us being changed.
I think we underestimate how secular our society has become. And there’s so much of the world in the church. It’s so deep. We must avoid being seduced by the idols that scream at us—whether it’s approval, whether it’s earthly success, whether it’s celebrity-ism, whether it’s numbers, whether it’s earthly power, prestige, all that stuff. That’s seductive. But to be able to be centered and anchored in yourself and God, that’s a powerful thing. You’ve got nothing to lose. That’s agility.