Over the years, we have served many hundreds of churches, covering every imaginable denomination and ranging in size from tens of thousands to a few hundred.
Over the course of our work, we have discovered that the churches most effective at reaching their communities and building spiritually and relationally healthy members made a practice of moving along three continuums. The secret to church “success” lies in moving “From….” to “…..to”:
You might call these three movements the habits of successful churches.
From consumerism to community
The most effective churches aren’t about putting on the best show or featuring the latest fad. They focus on connected community and on people rather than programs. The result? Healthier, deeper, and more effective ministries and transformed lives.
Pastors and leaders find their own voice rather than trying to mimic the voice of others who have been successful in contexts very different that their own.
From incongruence to code
Effective church leaders are aware of their church’s code – the collection of values, stories, rituals, heroes, habits, strategies, and even architecture that define the essence of an organization of any kind.
Wise leaders set priorities and make decisions that are congruent with the church’s code, not against it. Healthy growth comes from congruence with the code; dissension and stagnation happen when a church tries to become something it simply is not.
From autocracy to shared leadership
It’s possible to grow a church big and fast with a dictator-style leadership (whether the dictator is benevolent or not!). But it’s almost impossible to sustain healthy growth by running an organization dependent on volunteers by ordering them around.
Careful leadership engages the key issues at a deliberate pace, raising competing values, mobilizing the membership for ministry, building rapport, and maintaining a posture of service to the surrounding community and the world.
In particular, this shared leadership leverages every opportunity to move the church from the mindset of a cloister, sheltered from the “big, bad world” into the mindset of a mission station determined to impact, serve, and transform the world it has been given to love.
Our work with churches is supportive, intensive, relational, and focused on people. This list of habits is simply a starting point but it does provide a good check of your church’s “dashboard” for measuring success and effectiveness.
For a tried and true dashboard, consider our online congregational survey, the TCI, which will unlock new insight into both your church and community. Available for churches of all sizes. For more information, click here.