Many of you have heard about and used the tool that the Conference Office of Vitality is making available to determine a congregation’s readiness to do something new called Readiness 360. Very simply, this online survey measures a congregation’s behaviors and attitudes around four areas: Spiritual Intensity, Missional Alignment, Dynamic Relationship, and Cultural Openness. The tool then provides a report that puts together the information and leads to a list of tips that, when used, can help a congregation become more ready to do something new. The survey also allows each participant to comment on what excites them about doing something new, and what concerns them. It is these comments where I find some common themes of readiness.
The positive comments I found in these surveys include:
- I’m excited to see where God is leading our church and what part I’ll play in that!
- Jesus found new people to minister to every day. We should as well.
- If a new ministry for new people was to begin it would be great. There should be a ministry for all races, creeds and colors regardless of nationality. We are all God’s children and should be willing to start a new ministry to draw people to Christ.
- I’m excited about the coming together of new and familiar people and bringing new ideas and projects for worship and the up-building of God’s Kingdom.
- The smile of new found faith… JOY!!
- I’m excited at the prospect of witnessing new people use their gifts and talents to praise God. I look forward to sharing Christ with interesting people from all over our community.
- Growing! Bringing new and exciting ideas and people to the church.
- I want to connect more people to Christ and His love!
Wow! I can celebrate these comments all day long – and help to bring them to reality!
But the concern comments also provide an opportunity to learn too. Many of the concerns revolve around a general theme of fear and loss. While I generally employ a basic mantra – fear is not a faithful response – I do understand when fears are really expressing loss. Some of the losses I see in these comments have to do with these ideas:
- Loss of identity – we will not be the same church if new people join us. I enjoy our fellowship and familiarity and we just won’t be the same.
- Loss of control – I won’t have the same power to get what I want if new people come.
- Loss of relationships – some people may leave if we do things in a new way and that will change my relationship with them. I may even have to make room for new people in my life.
- Loss of purpose – we may have to do a lot of new and different things for new reasons to reach new people – it may not be the same for me.
So, my learning curve now has to include a way to listen to these concerns and find a way to help people realize that our sense of loss is real, and a time of grieving these losses may be appropriate. Painting a picture of God’s preferred future for God’s church is the best way to help people move on from their losses. Remembering that our job as God’s church is to share the Good News and help other people on their journey with God is one way to see through the loss to the joy of being the Body of Christ!