When church leaders think “ministry innovation,” one of the first churches that comes to mind is Life.Church, based in Edmond, Oklahoma. Here are some of the best tips for the agile church from Life.Church’s innovation leader and Outreach magazine columnist Bobby Gruenewald.
1. Ask the growth question.
No matter the size, age or denomination of our churches, there’s one question we should all be asking: Where do we grow from here?
The question isn’t, “When do we grow?” Your point of origin for growth is wherever you are right now—amid your challenges, with your resources and in your current reality. How do you grow from that reality to a new place? There isn’t one starting line, and you don’t have to wait to reach a certain milestone before you can begin. Nothing is stopping you. It’s a simple question to ask … and keep asking.
2. Make change incremental.
Sometimes it’s appropriate to accelerate gradually. Small, incremental changes allow you to help people embrace the change as you progress toward your larger vision.
For example, if your church is transitioning music styles, you might start by modernizing hymns, varying the flow of worship and introducing some new songs with the old ones. You could begin to incrementally add members to your worship team that more closely resemble the people you’re trying to reach. Make it incremental.
3. Check your leadership language.
If a ministry in our church has lost, or maybe even never had, a culture of outreach, it’s wise to take a look at our leadership language. That’s the situation we found ourselves in at Life.Church when we saw a noticeable decline in a previously thriving location.
We concluded that the culture at this location had grown inwardly focused. They cared most about what their experience was like and whether it was comfortable for them. We evaluated everything we were saying from stage, from our worship leaders to our staff. We shifted our language to explain things, both to help new people and to remind everyone that we want new people there every week.
4. Adopt a new mindset.
What could happen if we shifted our mindset to one that trusts the Holy Spirit equally for evangelism and discipleship? What concepts for discipleship might emerge if we think differently about our role in it?
Maybe you’ll start to position serving as a discipleship opportunity since it gives us experience putting others first. Maybe your local or global missions efforts can help people grow as they gain awareness of God at work around the world. The key here is an adjustment in perspective that might inspire new environments, lead us to realign opportunities or even to do the same things we’ve been doing with a different kind of clarity.
5. Multiply the momentum.
When we choose the timing for events and series at Life.Church, we’re always thinking about ways we can multiply momentum. We make sure to align those events with other attendance boosters, like the beginning of a series. And we make sure those weekends don’t fall right before a momentum breaker like a holiday weekend.
Those weekends have become perfect weekends for people to start or get back on track with attending church as the energy and excitement spills out into other weekends.