“I started a church today!” exclaimed Samuel Powers our congregation multiplication director as he returned to the office from a successful field visit with the potential sponsor of a new congregation.
I responded as the missions division leader, “No, you didn’t. You simply had the first meeting with a potential sponsor.”
“Yeah, but they agreed to start the church. I am putting it up on the board as number 23 this year,” Samuel said as he grinned at me as we both knew what was going on here.
Samuel liked to count new congregations as successes from the first discussion about launching the congregation. I insisted we talk about the seven phases of launching and developing a new congregation, of which the fourth phase was when we formally counted them as a new sustaining congregation.
Consider the full life of a congregation. What happens when a congregation first experiences the waning of its initial empowering vision from God that launched it into a life of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission. At some point when vision wanes, it decides it is time to re-envision, revitalize, renew, reinvent, or resurrect the congregation.
When the decision is made to redevelop a congregation so it can spiral forward to a new, partial life cycle once again captured by God’s empowering vision, is it ready to do so that day? Could our congregational transformation director in that same organization, Ray Coleman, declare he transformed a congregation that day?
Hardly. If is just a beginning. Deep, significant readiness for transformation is essential. The congregation in question has just made the first of multiple decisions to move forward and higher rather than backwards and lower. They will face this same decision point numerous times before they are ready to transform, much less successful transform.
I believe there are seven radical questions congregations must authentically answer before they are legitimately ready to transform., There are also anywhere between three to seven phases they must go through to transform depending on their starting place for transformation.