No, not that kind of model. I’m wondering if you’re married to a particular church paradigm, a specific way of doing church. And if you are, will you be willing to throw her under the bus when the time comes when it’s necessary for the sake of the Kingdom? I suspect you’d like to think so, but read on.
In a recent visit to a megachurch, it became apparent that the pastor, the staff, and even the whole board had fallen in love with a model. Their way of understanding and doing church had been exceptionally effective in years gone by. Indeed, that model had begotten a lovely step-daughter of a well-known mother church that was aging gracefully in a Chicago suburb. Never mind that the leaders of the mother church had recognized several years ago the need for more than a minor nip-and-tuck as they re-envisioned what it would take to facilitate relationships in a new generation. But the leaders of the step-daughter church were so enamored with what had been that the very mention of divorce from their beloved model brought cries of infidelity, horror, and disbelief. Indeed, the leadership became defensively combative when I pressed.
As a consultant, it’s tough enough to convince congregational leaders married to the 1950s model that stepping into the twenty-first century is no longer an option. Trying to convey that reality to Baby Boomers who traded pipe organs, hymns, and biological growth for drums, guitars, and anonymous seeker-focused worship is something else again.
They say that history repeats itself, but at one time I really had hoped my generation had learned the lesson of the necessity for contextual and perpetual change. Perhaps not. Apparently the next generation of church consultants will have to deal with the same issues I deal with now.
God help them.
Question: How can churches move from being married to a certain model of doing church to a more flexible paradigm? Share your ideas, suggestions, and experiences in the Comments section below.