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Reinvent Your Church Continually

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Sunday Night football tonight taught me an important lesson tonight.

Every year, these same two commentators jump into our living rooms and bring us the Greatest Sports Show on Earth. At the start of every year there's a killer new intro, amazing new music, all new graphics and a whole freshly-reinvented look and feel. I wait with baited breath each September for the start of football season. Who would raise the bar, who would take a risk, who will capture the viewers? But, these two older guys remain the same along with the message.

Everything else changes every season.

There not afraid to change what isn't working or what is tired. The outdated parts are ushered to the door just as quickly they are realized. What does work, stays as long as it's effective. If there's a tradition that is totally engaging, it's kept. If there's something that works on another station but is dying here, it gets tweaked or axed. The best ideas are only the best ideas for a season, then everything goes under the knife.

There is always a gasp in the gasp when someone suggests change. The gasp is probably because someone has just put a mark on his/her head. No one wants to be "that person," the one who becomes the face of the change. It's just too dangerous, so no one steps up. We remain the same, season after season. If viewers switch to another network or (gasp!) end up watching Beckham play the other 'football,' then let them go without much of a fight. We didn't want them here anyhow, our way is the right way and that's that.

It takes a battle to raise change in the church - so you fought and fought and the church did eventually change. You became 'mainstream' - then mainstream kept moving and you didn't move with it. Somehow in the unintentional complacency of just a couple of years you are back right where you started, but instead the songs are from 1980 instead of 1880. You made it through The Dip once before, but now you've got lots of withdrawals and a dwindling credit balance.

The church must be in a continual state of change.
I'm not exactly sure what's bringing all of these feelings on, but I think I'd like to chew on them for a day and return to blogging Tuesday morning (for a change). Comment on them if you'd like, I'll jump in the discussion for sure - but I'll see you tomorrow.


posted by Joshua Griffin @ 12:01 AM |

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At 8/12/2007, Anonymous Tony Steward said...

"Does your messaging say the best days are behind or the best days are ahead?"

This question is pure gold because it is easy to identify in the language of a church. You know the one I am talking about, the one where all you ever here is how good the old days were, and at every moment someone from that time is reminding you and telling you the same stories you have heard a million times. I believe that is a sign of desperation, and it is done as a way to validate churches that have lost it, but don't want to bare the blame. Talking about the past is like saying "we did it right, even though now is struggling."

I know that is a little strong, but I have seen several examples in my experience where people are stuck in the past.

Also, the enemy of being innovative is a "golden age." Golden Age's, where everyone starts to believe that have finally "gotten there" what ever "there" is, kills the desire to change, innovate and continue to push the limits.

The most caution for churches, and even other organizations and businesses should be taken in light of wild success. The tendency is to back off, and if you aren't careful in less than 3-5 years you will be scratching your head wondering how you got so far behind the innovation bell curve.

Great post Josh, you hit the nail on the head brother!

At 8/12/2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Josh and Tony-

You both need to go online and purchase a copy of Jim and Casper Go To Church it is incredible. It just came out a few weeks ago and is the true story about a longtime christian and an open-minded atheist and their journey to 10 different churches. the book includes ratings for each church over numerous categories and is plain genius! I'd let you borrow mine, but my cousin already took it. Let me know what you think once you've read it. (By the way, the entire first chapter is dedicated to Saddleback!)

At 8/13/2007, Blogger Joshua Griffin said...

Just ordered it ... along with 5 others I've been wanting. Thank for the suggestion. JG

At 8/13/2007, Anonymous Tony Steward said...

I have "Jim & Casper" within arm's reach as I saw this comment. It is "next up" on my reading list!

At 8/13/2007, Anonymous Tony Steward said...

I just did a solid skim of Jim & Casper and it is awesome. The best/biggest "aha" for me though was this exchange:

""Imago Dei is not trying to get you to join them, so much as they're trying to join you. I really like that ... Inbreaking is joining an existing community action, while outreaching is inviting them to join yours."

I liked the definition and identification of "beliefism", that put things into perspective.

And Casper's ratings of the music were awesome.

This book is a must read - if nothing else than it has probably pissed off all the right people and it will be good to know what they are talking about when they bring it up!!! lol

If I would describe the book in two words it would be:

"encouragingly brutal"

At 8/13/2007, Blogger .justin said...

great post josh, i too was thinking about this last night as i watched the seahawk/charger game.

the word "desired" is so easily overlooked and yet it is the most important word in this sentence of yours:
"Do the songs that are chosen and performed fit the style and attitude of the desired attendee?"

At 8/13/2007, Blogger Angerson said...

I really like this post Josh. I actually have been pondering over these same questions...not for youth ministry, but for the non profit I work with. It seems these questions are (usually) always an issue when you're dealing with a not for profit biz... Your insights will be helpful...:)

At 8/13/2007, Blogger Joel said...

Thanks for the thoughts. It will be very useful.

At 8/16/2007, Blogger Matt said...

Hi Josh (et al),

I really enjoy the responses to our book that I'm reading here, and I wanted to say thank you.

Some people get defensive--"why should we care what an atheist thinks?"--but most people realize, like you all do, that all Jim and I are trying to do is help.

Jason Evans (he is the pastor of mentioned in the chapter called "The Drummer's Church") and I are doing some speaking engagements in the fall in your neck of the woods, and we'd be honored if you'd like us to join you/Saddleback in any way...

I can be reached through the website www.churchrater.com.

Thanks again for posting, and I hope you enjoy "Jim & Casper Go to Church."

Matt Casper


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