Hope, vision and the willingness to risk, experiment, learn and innovate.
Congregations that see the big picture, take a long-term look and look beyond the present give themselves an opportunity to nurture hope: in God’s ability to change circumstances and in their own ability to partner in God’s mission.
This is where vision resides and the hope that God is calling us to, to become more of what the body of Christ, should look like. There is a sense of excitement at what God can do: where challenges are seen as opportunities and discernment is ongoing, a spiritual practice in itself. This is where the willingness to listen, learn, adapt and change define the character of the congregation; where the church is anchored to principles instead of tradition and rituals that can keep them from pursuing the path that God wants to lead them on.
Congregations that have hope, a sense of purpose and direction are able to embrace the uncertainty of the moment and adapt and/or innovate into a new future that may not look like the past. Just as healthy organisms adapt and thrive in changing environments, churches that are healthy are quick to learn and change, without compromising their core purpose or calling.
Closely tied to the above is the willingness to take a step into the unknown. To experiment, to be curious and learn are marks of a congregation that is learning the skill and art of adaptive and agile leadership. Risk opens us to increased vulnerability which teaches us that often, the outcomes of the ministry initiatives that we engage in are in the trustworthy hands of the Spirit. Letting go of control and trusting God for the outcome is a very comforting and refreshing place to be as a congregation. Hope was a defining trait of God’s people, throughout history. Beginning with the Israelites and then the early church, God’s people were a people of hope, constantly trusting God to lead them to a place of abundance. The Bible describes God as a God of hope and where hope is found. When congregations lose hope in God’s ability to take them beyond what they already know or what they have experienced in the past, they die. And to be clear, hope in God is resurrection hope: not the same as hope in the denomination or in a person. In fact, sometimes God removes the safety and shelter these offer so that we may rely on the Spirit to resource and lead us.
Explore nine characteristics of hopeful, innovative congregations listed in the article referenced below.
Why should Christians be hopeful? What is the power of hope? Read this article to find out more..Hope