Crossroads: the work ahead

By Rev. Rick King

(This column is part of a series on church vitality.)

The work begins. Last Saturday, our church and team hosted the first of four Crossroads retreats for church revitalization. Tonight, our church’s Crossroads team will have our first meeting. [Editor’s note: The meeting will be rescheduled due to bad weather.] Team members and I are excited at what’s possible for us as a church.

But it’s going to take all of us working together.

Jim LaDoux, our consultant from VibrantFaith, LLC, and Associate Conference Minister Anita Bradshaw, led the teams from the three churches in our cohort in understanding that church renewal doesn’t just happen because of one or two things, but strategically.

In my years as a leader, I’ve come to identify three types of planning and three types of change in congregations:

  • There’s problem-solving planning and the changes that resolve difficulties.
  • There’s developmental planning that addresses how to do what we currently do, only better.
  • Adaptive planning changes the way we embody our vision and mission and shapes what priorities we embrace, and how we look at what church is and how it works in the world. It also means discerning a new vision to guide our work, in response to the changes in our community, our individual and collective lives, and religious life.

In the Discovery process, our church took really crucial steps during the interim period to develop a new vision and mission to guide us into this new chapter in FHC’s life. Interim Pastor Anne may have discussed with you the concept of “adaptive work”—work that adapts an organization such as a church to be more effective in a changed context.

Crossroads will provide us a partnership and the expertise to help us live into our vision and mission in ways that transform us as a church. We’re in a cohort of three other churches this year: Robbinsdale, Parkway Minneapolis, and St. Mark’s Bloomington. We will learn from each other, pray for each other, and celebrate victories big and small together.

But YOU are the crucial part of whether our plans get legs and become reality!

A compelling VISION for ministry is not imposed on a congregation by one person or even a team; it has to bubble up from the people. Crossroads requires everybody in FHC to engage in this process of change.

NARRATIVES—the story or stories we tell ourselves and others—powerfully shape our lives and how we live them. Jim LaDoux, our VibrantFaith consultant, speaks of identifying and articulating a “preferred future” for FHC; it’s another way of saying, you and I and our Team together are writing the next chapter in FHC’s long story. What will it tell?

Nobody, not even our Team, can give us a magic formula for revitalizing our church; we have to work together.

Can I have your agreement that you will embrace this process in 2019, and try?