I’ve heard it recognized a number of times, “this interim is different than the others before it.” I hope it is, because that difference is intentional. When it is complete, we will have spent about eighteen months reflecting, analyzing, dreaming, and visioning. Of course, the main expectation is that you will call a new “settled” senior pastor, and possibly an additional pastor after that. But, what else should we expect for the future. What difference will you see for the effort made?
There is a book called The Unstuck Church. In it, author Tony Morgan describes stages of growth and decline that congregations experience in their natural lives. The title implies that congregations or ministries can get stuck in any of those stages, and it takes vision, insight, and perseverance to move from one stage to a healthier one. Morgan labels the seven stages: Launch, Momentum Growth, Strategic Growth, Sustained Health, Maintenance, Preservation, and Life-Support. Honestly speaking, St. John’s most likely fits the description of “Maintenance,” meaning we’re working pretty hard just to keep the status quo.
Our vision for the future, however, borrows some of the best attributes of a momentum growth congregation, to jump start a path to sustained health. Imagine this being the description of St. John’s ministry:
- We will have an “outward focus.” That is, we will not be “unashamed about [our] desire to reach people for Jesus.”
- “There’s a lot of buzz.” We will be known in the community by word-of-mouth.
- “Creativity and innovation (therefore change) will be expected.” We will be “risk driven.”
- We will be “driven by personality.” For better or worse, the ministry will often be identified with the senior pastor, but we will “multiply the voices and personalities that carry out the ministry strategy.”
- We will “begin to focus [our] vision.” We will “mark out the specifics of where [our] ministries are heading in the future. There will always be “a new mountain the ministry team intends to take on.”
- We will “begin to give leadership away.” We will “recognize the one person can’t call all the shots.” We will seek out and raise up leaders within the congregation.
This sounds a lot like what your congregation council and transition team have been working on. It describes an exciting future, “unstuck” and moving forward. This is my hope and prayer for you. May God so inspire and ordain it.