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The Difference Between Complacency And Other Causes Of Slow Pace In Church Culture (via Sam Rainer)

Sam Rainer offers some observations about church culture: whether the pace of change can be attributed to complacency or other elements of culture that mean that change does not take place at the same pace as other places.
Wise pastoral leadership will take the time to learn what is behind the church’s culture, and also not expect change to take place at the same pace everywhere on the basis of superficial similarities.
From Rainer:

Every church has a pace built into the culture of its people. Some churches move more slowly. Some move more quickly. While most established churches likely need to pick up the pace, a slow pace does not necessarily mean the church is complacent.
Complacent churches are self-satisfied and are unwilling to address problems. Unfortunately, far too many churches are complacent. But don’t confuse complacency with a slow pace. Some congregations are willing to move forward; it just takes them a little longer. A few factors may influence the slow pace of a church.
The community may move at a slower pace. The church is simply reflecting the greater culture of the community. For example, rural communities tend to change less quickly. A church that moves too quickly in a slow-moving farming community may actually become less relevant.
A slow pace may point to stability, not entrenchment. It’s hard to move rapidly and also be stable. Slow-moving stability can be better for some church cultures. The downside of this pattern is it can create ruts of entrenchment, but it doesn’t have to be the case. When used strategically, stability can advance discipleship, sacrificial giving, and equipping—none of which point to complacency.
Leaders may guide the church methodically. Not every leader is designed to push forward with intensity. Not every church needs a hard-charging pastor full of ambition and ideas. Some church leaders plod thoughtfully, with intention and strategy. Plodding leaders are not complacent leaders.
The season of a church may necessitate a slower pace. When a church needs to heal, it almost always needs to slow down. A church may go through months, if not years, of a slower pace. This intentional slowdown may be the opposite of complacency. It could be the problem is the fast pace.
Passion is not always fast. Restoring an antique car takes time. It’s a painstaking process. The slowness of the restoration process is a sign of passion, not complacency or apathy. The same principle applies to the church. Pastors who revitalize churches may move slowly, but it’s an indicator of their passion and love for the church, not a mark of complacency.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming all slow-moving churches are complacent. In fact, many established churches require plodding leaders who are willing to take the time to revitalize them. These pastors are passionate, not complacent.


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Cooperation, Not Competition

Wednesday mornings in Mount Gambier usually begin with pastors of various churches getting together for prayer and then coffee.
For a few weeks over December/January we have a break, but we’ll be resuming soon.
Well it takes effort, but we want the Gospel to spread in Mount Gambier, and that means through all the churches and local Christians, not just our own places and people.
Hanging out together helps us not to compete, but to cooperate.
As pastors we want to model genuine Christian love and fellowship.
And the effort expands my own heart for the Gospel.

Part of a short post from Sam Rainer sums up why:

Friends assume the best. Cooperating pastors do not assign malicious motives. They hold each other accountable. When pastors hang out, they ask edifying questions of each other rather than viewing each other with suspicion from a distance.
Friends celebrate successes. Cooperating pastors enjoy hearing about their friends making strides for the kingdom of God.
Friends help each other. Cooperating pastors pray for each other. They look out for each other. They champion the work at each other’s churches.
Friends don’t have territories. Cooperating pastors don’t slice up the community into market territories. There is no need to fence off a territory when you desire to be around someone.

Read the whole post here.

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Two Keys To Multi-generational Church Health (via Sam Rainer)

These two keys to a unified multi-generational church by Sam Rainer are helpful.
From the post:

Key 1: The older generation must sacrifice for the younger generation. When the preferences of the older generation become more important than the souls of their children or grandchildren, the church dies. Church legacy passes from one generation to the next when the older generation allows the younger generation to lead and make necessary changes. Giving the legacy of the church to the next generation requires a huge sacrifice on the part of the older generation. It involves selflessness and humility, as well as a lot of patience.

Key 2: The younger generation must have a willingness to be taught by the older generation. It’s selfish and shortsighted for the younger generation to demand change without first learning from the older generation. You can’t expect the older generation to give church leadership to the younger generation without the younger generation also wanting to learn from their elders. The younger generation must be selfless and humble too. Multigenerational ministry is healthy only when the younger generation appreciates the historical sacrifices of the older generation.

Read Rainer’s post here.

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Twelve Principles For Change In The Established Church (via Sam Rainer)

These twelve principles for guiding established churches through change by Sam Rainer make sense.
Since every healthy established church is continually changing through growth, these need to be observed everywhere.
In my observations, three, five, eight and ten are consistent areas of stumbling in fostering change.

If we believe in the body of Christ, then ministry leaders must be change agents. Leaders quickly understand what needs to change, but the how of change is just as important. I’ve been guilty of rushing the what of change without taking time to consider how change should happen. Below are twelve principles to help ministry leaders understand how change needs to occur.

  1. Begin with prayer. If you don’t pray through change, then you will rely on your abilities instead of God’s sovereignty. Change without prayer is dangerous and foolish.
  2. Love people more than change. Loving change more than people is not leadership. It’s selfishness.
  3. Choose your battles. Everything may need to change. But if you want to change everything all at once, then you demonstrate two undesirable leadership traits: Unwillingness to compromise and an inability to prioritize.
  4. Admit your mistakes. No one changes everything perfectly. Don’t pretend like you’ve got it all figured out. No one would believe you anyway.
  5. Affirm traditions. Not everything in the past is bad. Speak positively of past traditions that still work.
  6. Build on successes. Give credit to others for successes. Take personal responsibility for failures.
  7. Allow for open discussion. Do not withhold information. Give people time to digest your proposals. Let the people have a voice.
  8. Be wise in timing. Change can be emotional for people. Create buffers. Keep a long-term perspective.
  9. Stay focused. When change needs to happen, don’t let distractions derail you.
  10. Allow for a trial period. Change-resistant members can be comforted that the intrusion into their comfort zone may not be permanent. At the end of a trial period (I recommend one year), one of three decisions can be made. Extend the trial period. Reverse the change. Make the change permanent. In most established churches, after something has been going a year, most will say, “It’s the way we’ve always done it.”
  11. Expect opposition. Some people will never be pleased. Some will initially push back. Work with those who are willing to listen. Pray for and love those who never listen.
  12. Evaluate change. Not every change is good. Not every change will work. Be willing to admit it and move forward with new ideas.

All growing, healthy churches change. Every new person added to the body is a change. Great churches change. Great leaders know how to lead the change.