How Looking Backwards Can Help Your Church Move Forwards

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Are you looking to move your church forward in 2013? It could be that the first place you should look is backwards.

Let’s face it; an influential core of your congregation will be predisposed to maintaining the status quo. But you can leverage this predisposition and actually draw change momentum from it.

Here’s how.

Usually these “change resisters” in your church do not see themselves as opposing change, as much as defending values. So effective leaders keep forward momentum for change moving along by constantly reinforcing the core elements which are not changing; the values.

I saw no better example of this than when Tim Schroeder was leading Kelowna BC’s Trinity Baptist Church from its fairly traditional worship style to a more contemporary format.

The way in which Tim led the church forward was a clinic how to anchor a vision into a church’s values. Specifically, Tim demonstrated three key leadership principles.

1.   Remind the church where the values came from

Time and again Tim retold Trinity’s origin story, emphasizing that the outreach value was in the “DNA” of the church from the very beginning.

“One of the founding values of this church was outreach.” Tim would remind us. “Our founders dreamed of a church that would impact our community.”

2.   Tie the timeless values into the new vision

A barrier to reaching the community had been identified as language. Because the language of the worship services was German, outreach to the congregation’s English-speaking friends was being impeded.

Now, years later, another barrier had arisen which must be similarly addressed; that of music and other expressions of worship.

3.   Draw on the passions of the key influencers

“We must honor the values upon which this church was founded.” Tim would remind us. “The founders of this church had the courage to identify and remove language as a barrier to outreach. Will we do the same with our choice in music style?”

Trinity’s founders became champions of the new vision, the church saw hundreds come to faith in Christ, and the congregation grew from a few hundred to close to 3000.

If you’re leading a process of change, keep the vision white hot for your congregation. But if you face resistance don’t lose heart.

You may find that momentum for change is found in the most unlikely of places.

Even your history.

How do you leverage values to promote a vision?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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