***Originally posted 8/30/10. Reposted to fit in my present series on the church.***
I'm reading Transformational Church by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer as a compliment to my reading of Michael Spencer's Mere Churchianity. Chapter two introduces the "Transformational Loop" of properties present in Transformational Churches. It is a loop because each area feeds into another and no one property can stand alone in a strong, transformational church. The areas are Discern, Embrace, and Engage and the properties present are a Missionary Mentality, Vibrant Leadership, Relational Intensity, Prayerful Dependence, Worship, Community, and Mission.
Reading through the description of each of these, it quickly became clear where my fellowship is strong and where it falls short. The recommendation for a stagnant church to become a transformational church is to identify your strengths and use them to build the other properties. For example, if your strength is worship, use that to build community, and so on.
I've been wrestling for some time with why things don't seem to be clicking in my fellowship. We have our strengths and weaknesses just like any other congregation. And I don't expect us to be perfect. But I just get the feeling that a piece is (or pieces are) missing. This loop helps me to identify what we need to build on and grow in.
My fellowship's strengths are mission and community. We have a strong evangelistic focus, taking on the mission of Jesus to "seek and save the lost." We build community through small groups for accountability, personal growth, and to facilitate evangelistic activities. These communities forge life-long relationships.
However these strengths ebb and flow. We take our strengths for granted and grow complacent. I believe this is because our strengths do not have deep roots and this loop bares that out. We are strong in mission, but lack a missionary mentality. We are strong in community but lack relational intensity. So our strengths are what we do, not who we are.
I am also convicted personally because I lack in prayerful dependence. I'm not a prayer warrior, though I need to grow in my prayer life. But I look around and I don't see many prayer warriors around me either. I admired an Elder we had who would pray "without ceasing." Ask him a question and he would pause, consider it, and then pray about it. Without fail, every question. But I don't see that as my church's culture.
I also admire one of my best friends who is strong in worship. He lives it, studies it, and teaches it but being worshipful has only rubbed off on a few. And our Sunday services are better for it!
So the pieces are there to build, despite my negativity. I'm sure if I looked around I could find individuals who are strong in one or more of these properties. The trick however is spreading those strengths through the congregation until it becomes part of its culture.
Given that background, what would you say are your church's strengths?
What are your strengths and do they feed into your church's?
Would you describe your church as "transformational"?