Tony Morgan on Seven Strategic Shifts Church Leaders Must Make Now
Seven Practical Shifts
Tony Morgan, a nationally recognized author, speaker, consultant, and founder of The Unstuck Group, recently spoke with Joe Park, CEO of Horizons Stewardship, about seven practical shifts church leaders need to consider as our culture moves beyond the Coronavirus outbreak and social distancing.
Watch the Interview Now
Church leaders are asking a lot of questions right now. One of the most common is “When are we going to get back to the way it was before social distancing?” A better question is “What changes to do we need to be making to our Ministry, Discipleship, and Funding plans to thrive during and post Covid-19?” If your focus is on getting the past back, it is impossible to embrace the future that God has for you.
The Coronavirus has not so much created a new future as it has accelerated cultural change that was already taking place.
Churches that were growing before the crisis are likely to see that growth accelerate. Churches that were in decline are also likely to see their decline occur more rapidly.
The good news is that times of crisis are opportunities when people are open to doing things differently. As a leader, your church is expecting you to initiate the necessary changes to bring about a preferred future. This webinar is both an invitation and a roadmap to ensure your church’s best days are still ahead of you.
Shift #1: From Analog to Digital
Over 90% of churches are now conducting online worship, and most will find they need to continue this practice even after Coronavirus has been eradicated. A characteristic of churches that will thrive during and after this crisis is an effective digital delivery strategy that extends beyond online worship into connection and spiritual formation. The best strategies will be those that look beyond simply recreating online what we were offering in person.
The Challenge: Re-imagine what discipleship and spiritual formation look like inside a digital delivery strategy.
Shift #2: From Teaching to Equipping
The single largest investment of resources for most churches is in gathering people each week for worship and teaching. While Bible teaching is very important, thriving churches are shifting their focus to equipping people with the tools and resources they need to engage the Bible, practice spiritual disciplines, and live out God’s mission in their lives. Teaching becomes a part of the equipping strategy when it inspires clear personal growth along the church’s discipleship path.
The Challenge: Re-imagine how to facilitate meaningful spiritual growth experiences that move people from just being participants to actively taking the next step along a discipleship pathway.
Shift #3: From Gathering to Connecting
Gathering and connecting may sound like the same thing but thriving churches have learned that effectively gathering people for an event does not in and of itself provide a transformative experience. They are instead shifting from focusing on how many people gather each week to celebrating how many persons they connect with relationally. God designed us to need one another.
The Challenge: Re-imagine how to change the level of interactions that place an even greater emphasis on relationships and life transformation.
Shift #4: From Global to Local
Many churches have invested so heavily in sending people around the world that they have missed the opportunities in their own communities. COVID-19 has heightened the awareness church leaders have about the needs in the lives of people who live in their own communities. Now is an exceptional opportunity to reevaluate the investment you are making in your own community and to ensure that your attention to global efforts is not diverting your attention from the greater challenge of being missionaries to those near your front door.
The Challenge: Re-imagine what it might look like to elevate your missional outreach in your city and within blocks of your church.
Shift #5: From Complexity to Simplicity
Complexity is easy. Simplicity is hard. More church activity is not positively correlated to growing churches, but it is to declining churches. Complexity in the decision-making process is also correlated with declining churches, who on average have 40% more people on their boards, sessions, vestries, etc., and twice as many administrative committees. Thriving churches are becoming more intentional about their mission and vision, and in learning to focus on what’s most important. The result is a more effective, efficient, and adaptive ministry. This effort seems counterintuitive, but it works.
The Challenge: Re-imagine what is most important for your church and then what it might look like to align resources, time, volunteers, and money to ensure you are delivering on your mission and vision consistently and effectively.
Shift #6: From Counting Attendees to Engagement
It’s not enough to get people into the proverbial pew. Thriving churches are shifting their measure of effectiveness from counting attendees to focusing on individual movement along the discipleship path. They measure and celebrate each step a person takes along the discipleship path and the impact of the church’s ministry in their mission field.
The Challenge: Re-imagine how measuring engagement and impact can identify a more direct connection between participation and growing disciples.
Shift #7: From Over-Spending to Generosity
Many churches were spending beyond their current contributions before social distancing began. Declining churches spend 35% more on staff than thriving churches. Now is the time to consider changing how your church is allocating funds. If you can name and measure the outcomes you desire, then you can measure the return on the human and financial investment you are seeing in each ministry of the church. Then discern what changes need to be made to see the greatest impact for the resources you steward.
The Challenge: Re-imagine how a ministry spending plan can help you make spending decisions that lead to greater impact and life change.
Church leaders need to lead like they never have before. It’s vital to maintain focus on what’s most important right now and, in turn, measure the right things. If you wait until the church reopens, it may be too late to keep things from going back to the way you have always done them.
Take this opportunity to reflect on your current ministry strategies, priorities, and commitments. If they aren’t leading to the results you desire, consider making one or more of the seven shifts discussed above. What church leaders do in the coming weeks and months will have a substantial impact on your capacity to do more ministry. The opportunity for impact has never been greater. Your best days can still lie ahead of you!