I’m not the big idea-generator in our church. I don’t have to be. We’ve fostered an atmosphere where people know their new ideas will be heard and respected, their half-notions will be edited, experiments will be tried, successes will be celebrated and failure isn’t fatal.
2. Move From a Destination Mindset to a Change Process
A destination mindset is one in which we look for an ideal church program, building or piece of furniture (oh, those massive pulpits with the donor’s plaque on them!), then set them in place as never-to-be-changed idols.
A change process is one in which we realize that no facility, program or piece of furniture will last forever. They’re not sacred. That title is reserved only for God and our foundational theology.
But innovation needs a plan and a process if it’s going to work consistently. A church needs to know why, how and when changes will occur.
A simple, rational change process gives the congregation a clear path to follow. It reassures the timid and it inspires innovators.
3. Provide and Promote Stability Zones
When I came to my current pastorate 23 years ago, I didn’t start changing things right away. We spent a long time – years, in fact – nursing a sick and dying church back to health by re-establishing who we are and what we believe.
We studied scripture together. We asked hard questions like “if this went away, or that were added, would it strengthen or weaken our presentation of the Gospel message?” This allowed people to find a firm, stable footing before we started down the path of change.
In Dirt Matters, Jim Powell talks about how they have established what he calls Stability Zones to help foster an atmosphere in which Richwoods Church has a culture that is open to change:
Part of the problem churches face is that many people are freaked out and emotionally unsettled by the speed and onslaught of an ever-changing world. Without even realizing it, they want to be able to walk into a church and find a stability zone. A place that doesn’t change. An environment that is consistent and reliable… because little else in their world appears to be.
For us at Richwoods, this includes our essential doctrinal positions and some practical aspects of ministry, such as the practice of believer baptism. We also serve communion every week in our corporate worship services. These beliefs and practices are part of our history, and they serve as islands that people can drift to in the midst of rocky seas.