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Wisdom In The Timing And Implementation Of Change In An Established Church (via Ron Edmondson)

In a church plant (and, in a more limited way in a revitalisation) the leader has a considerable degree of discretion and control about how things are done.
With an established church, particularly those of smaller to medium size, people have a sense of ownership and partnership that means the introduction of change needs to be processed with wisdom and patience.

In concluding a post on the subject, Ron Edmondson says:

Be strategic in the implementation.

Take your time. Establish trust. Build consensus. Talk to the right people. Even compromise on minor details if necessary. Accommodate special requests if possible and if it doesn’t affect the outcome. Be political if needed.
It’s part of the process, especially in a highly structured environment. (Does that describe any churches you know?)
Structured environments shouldn’t keep you from making the right decisions involving change. They just alter the implementation process.
Knowing this difference provides freedom to visionary pastors and leaders in highly structured environments. You can make the change. You can. You’ll just have to be smarter about how and when you make them.

The only thing I’d add is don’t simply bank up trust and never get around to spending it on needed change.
Sometimes that time of patience can become the status quo that you never emerge from.

Read the whole post at Ron Edmondson.


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Patiently Nurturing Culture Change (via Ron Edmondson)

Ron Edmondson offers five observations regarding culture change in a local church:
They’re pretty sensible, but can be overlooked because of enthusiasm or over-confidence.
Taking the time to get to know the church and its existing culture (in contrast to its behaviour; trying to understand why people are doing what they’re doing) is necessary and respectful.
It also provides insight that enables adaptions that help changes to be specifically suited to the location rather than just being imported because they worked somewhere else.
Edmondson’s first four:

Figure out where the culture most needs to be changed.
Figure out what is working that you can build upon.
Begin to get a vision for the future. What does it look like?
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

And his final point:

Steadfastly work the plan.
It will take longer than most leaders hope it will. The longer the present culture has been engrained the longer it will take to change it. Protect your soul during the process, take frequent periods of rest, surround yourself with some encouragers, but stick with it.
The process to get there won’t be easy, but when the culture is improved you can really start having fun again.

Read the whole post here.


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Getting The Church To Think Outside The Church (via William Sikes)

This article is sort of a plug for the author’s web-based church revitalisation program, but there are a few phrases that resonate in communicating a mission focussed vision for local churches that need revitalisation.

One of the most important revitalization changes we faced was to move from a ‘country club’ church to a ‘mission-based’ church. The church was self-focused.
But the Lord was leading us to be something greater in the community for the mission of Christ. In order for us to do this, we were going to need to get the church thinking outside of the church and to stop caring about the “me, myself, I, and us” language.

Read the whole post here.


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Relational Patience (via Ed Stetzer)

In a post about necessary qualities of church revitalisers (those who come be nurture new vitality in an existing church, in contrast with church planters who are starting a new church) Ed Stetzer writes about the need for relational patience, a quality any pastor who is working with an existing church needs.

…church revitalizers must have relational patience
If you’re planting a church, you do not necessarily have to be relationally patient. A church planter can come into an area and do their thing, and if people don’t respond, they can move on. But in church revitalization, it is essential to be relationally patient. Church revitalizers need to take time with people and love people who don’t always agree with them.
They must remember that a church member disagreeing with them is not the same thing as disagreeing with God. There will be people who have different views, approaches, and philosophies. A church revitalizer needs to have the patience to take time to weigh all of those opinions. They have to learn how to love the entire congregation well, including those they disagree with. That takes a great amount of relational patience.

Read the whole post.


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The Challenge Of Sundays In A Smaller Church (via Karl Vaters)

Having come from a meeting today where church attendance figures were submitted, this article by Karl Vaters makes some helpful points.
While there is an average number of people attending a church, in reality attendances can fluctuate between, say, thirty-five an sixty people.
That difference makes a significant change in tone, and, realistically, most weeks those planning worship don’t know which ‘group’ they’re structuring for.

Vaters suggests:

Think relationally not programmatically
Highly programmed people have a hard time in small church leadership. Highly relational people do much better.
When numbers are small, and week-to-week percentage swings are highly variable, you can’t lead with a fill-in-the-boxes mentality.
In small churches, everything is done relationally. Our planning needs to be, too.
*and*
Leave a lot of wiggle room in your plans
Most planning principles are based on exact numbers. But when you don’t have exact numbers, you can’t plan that way.
Instead of saying “we need X number of ushers, greeters or nursery attendants”, talk with the members of your church about the importance of being ready for anything at a moment’s notice.

Read the whole post here.


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Waiting To Serve While The Business Is Closed

This is a heart-achingly sad feature article by Garry Maddox on Fairfax about the Olympia Milk Bar (Parramatta Road, Sydney) and its owner.
The Milk Bar was forced closed by the local council due to severe structural problems in the building, along with other signs of disrepair.
And yet, within the milk-bar that never opens a solitary figure carries out a daily routine, just as if it were still open.
Its impossible not to think of the similarity to this sad situation to numbers of churches.

The beginning of the article.

The old Olympia milk bar – a landmark on Parramatta Road at Stanmore – has kept sadly declining since it closed late last year.
The sign out front is full of gaps: “SNACK_, SMOKES, S_E_ _S,” it reads. The window is partly boarded up. The awning is black with dirt.
But anyone passing who has a moment to pay attention might see a figure moving in the shadows at the back of the shop. If they ever dropped in for a milkshake, tea or a quick meal after a movie when the Olympia was open, they will recognise him.
Eight months after its last customer, elderly owner Nicholas Fotiou still spends his days – apron on as though ready for work – at the Greek milk bar that has been his life.
“Seven days a week,” he says with a thick Greek-Australian accent.

Read the rest here.


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Why Starbucks Failed In Australia (via CNBC)

“They thought their business model could just roll out.”
I’ve watched forty years or so of church ministries franchise themselves as the future of the church without having the humility or awareness to realise that they were a lot more dependent on local circumstances and personalities than they thought.
“The company said that it would develop in Italy with humility and respect.”
If only Christian ministries focussed on church growth would do the same.
Interestingly the company’s plans for Australia now seem to be focussed on presenting a familiar presence and product for tourists visiting the country.