The Agile Church: 5 Ways to Lead Through Change

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Culture is constantly changing. As it shifts, churches feel the tug to change. The leadership often knows they need to make some adjustments, but many times they don’t follow through because, let’s face it, change is hard. But… it’s important.

Churches avoid change for many reasons. Sometimes they are trying to keep everyone happy (which leads to mediocrity, by the way). In many cases they struggle to look past the urgent and cast vision for the future, which will always be the case unless the team disciplines itself to prioritize vision-casting and strategic planning. And sometimes churches simply don’t have enough faith, creating too small of a vision, one that doesn’t require a move of God.

When change is rejected, churches fall behind. Here’s a short list of things churches can do to develop greater agility:

1. Shift your church from an inward focus to an outward focus.

The gospel demands an outward focus. When everything your church does is aimed at reaching people outside the walls, you won’t get stuck. Those people keep changing. Your community keeps changing. If you stay focused on the people who need Jesus, you’ll be more aware of the ways you have to change to reach them.

And this isn’t just about how you design your services and programs. Leaders must model what it looks like to develop intentional relationships with people outside the church and outside the faith to stay in tune with a shifting culture.

2. Shorten your planning cycles.

Too many churches don’t plan at all or wait too long to ask, “How are we doing?” and make adjustments. Don’t wait until serious decline has started, or until nothing you’re doing is working anymore, to plan for the future.

Vision and ministry strategy renewals should happen every 12 months; action plans should be refreshed every six months. This rhythm creates agility and also protects follow-through, in my experience.

3. Bring a fresh perspective to your team when the culture needs to change.

Internal culture shift often requires an infusion of new leadership with fresh perspectives. Promoting leaders from within perpetuates the culture you’ve already built. Outside hires can help shift it.

4. Stay focused on what God’s uniquely called your church to do.

Agility rarely develops out of mimicking institutional peers (other churches, other pastors, etc.).

5. Don’t fall behind in technology, and innovate proactively.

At some point, the church is going to have to figure out how to leverage technology and the web for more than sharing information and posting sermons. This may be the area where the church lacks agility the most.


This list was taken from my recent interview with Outreach Magazine. Click here to read the original article.

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About Author

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.

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