Assume that you want to establish a new DNA in your congregation that would necessitate some change. Before change can take effect, you need to do some sorting and rearranging of priorities.
A. Make three lists:
– What core activities should we keep?
– What activities (that we do currently) should we discard, so that we can take on new ones?
– What new activities should we begin?
List ALL your current activities and arrange them appropriately under the first two columns.
Now list the new activities that you want to begin, in the third column. As you add these, you may find yourselves modifying the first two lists too. Keep with this activity until you arrive at consensus and clarity. Keep the new (third) list brief and don’t hold back on filling up that second (what to discard) list.
Communicate, communicate, communicate – to everyone over a longer period, from the pulpit use visual and verbal props, social media and any other means necessary.
Remember that even though you might change the way you want to do things, transitioning to this new way of being takes time. So, pursue short term, easy wins (low hanging fruit). Celebrate those wins. Consolidate those wins and then go for more. Anchor these new practices and rhythms into the culture.
For e.g.: Supposing you want to introduce a practice of taking time to discern God’s presence and leading, before every meeting (council, church, bible study etc.), introduce the “Practicing God’s presence” project to the congregation. Use all the resources available over 3-6 months or even more until you see it becoming a common practice. Celebrate what people are feeling and experiencing as they do this. Talk about it, preach it, let people feel that they may be missing out if they haven’t engaged. Model the practice. As you continue, you will see that it becomes a part of your church culture and ethos.
Some practices take more time to introduce and maintain. For e.g. If you as the minister want to begin investing more time in people and spend less time attending committee meetings, begin by saying “no” and suggesting the names of others who could take your place. Be prepared for some criticism but stay the course. Invite the new nominee to report to the council about his/her experience and contribution to the committee. Do this in other areas as well. Soon you will be known as the “the pastor that delegates” and the “one who empowers”. This will become your congregational culture and release you do to do more investing and building. Remember investment produces dividends, spending does not!
B. See DNA Strand #4 – for further information and guidance on building your leadership team.
Practical resources and ideas for creating more time to invest in people. But first of all, why invest in people? Investment multiplies your efforts over the long term. When it’s time for you to leave and look behind you, you will have the joy of seeing many who have developed the spiritual maturity, skills and capacity to provide godly leadership in the congregation. Spending time just doing ministry may take away the time needed for this important work of building Gods kingdom. Remember that the church is made up of individuals and for the church to be healthy, it’s people must be healthy. Time invested in people is never wasted. Consider the following.
Idea #1. Ministers generally take anywhere between 10 -15 hrs per week preparing sermons. This accounts for about 1/4 or more of their paid time. Consider installing technology (if you don’t have it already) and have sermons from other ministers relayed to you via the internet on Sundays. In fact, you could be a part of a four-member preaching/teaching team where each member takes responsibility to preach a sermon once/month. That way, your time could be released during the week to be invested in some other ministry area such as developing leaders and growing disciples. Read this article again: https://medium.com/@ChrisPVST/back-to-the-future-ii-5b79583890f6
Idea #2. Following this is an idea to encourage small groups to meet in homes or third spaces such a libraries, coffee shops or even online on a weekly basis (mid week is best) to discuss the sermon and respond to some questions that the minister offered, together with her sermon. Facilitators of these meetings could be trained and supported by you, their minister (now that there is more time to do this).
Idea#3. What if pastoral care is a networked model instead of a hub and spoke model? i.e., members take care of each other rather than the pastor being the one who provides the care. The minister then can work with a few members who will act as network animators – ones who keep the network alive by communicating and connecting those who provide and need care. This can be done via various social networking sites such as Whatsapp.
Idea#4. Regularly invite a few potential (interested) members over for a meal and begin a book study or study of a bible topic or theme. They become the ones that you can invest in as disciples.
There is no shortage of ideas. What’s required is the will to do what’s important (produces fruit) and the commitment to stay the course.