The Austin Stone didn’t begin as a church committed to missional communities. Through several years, we have transitioned our church from a traditional community/small group model to our current model of missional communities. This series of posts will help you understand how we made that transition over time:
- Transitioning Your Church to Missional Communities
- Two Ways to Transition
- Creating a Sense of Urgency
- Forming a Strategic Team
- Crafting a Vision
- Communicating the Vision
- Empowering Others to Act
- Celebrating Wins
- Building on the Change
- Institutionalizing the Change
Much of this framework is adapted from John Kotter’s model for leading organizational change. I pray this series will help many of you that are leading churches through a season of transition!
Creating a Sense of Urgency
For change to happen, it helps if the whole church really wants it, and a sense of unction or urgency is crucial to driving a transition. Cultivating this sense of need can come in many different ways – identifying opportunities in your city, pointing out weaknesses of the current model, showing statistics of lostness, and a variety of other methods. We have used these tools and more.
At The Austin Stone, we have found that for the believer, a sense of urgency must first and foremost be grounded in conviction from God’s Word. We can certainly have a sense of necessity of change in our minds, but deeply-rooted conviction begins with the heart. Specifically, a heart that desires to be conformed to the image of Christ through obedience to the Word of God.
This isn’t simply a matter of showing people statistics about lostness or talking about a stagnant church, although those tactics can be helpful. Urgency born of conviction from God’s Word will lead to repentance, which is the single most necessary step in transition.
What Convictions Do I Need?
Practically speaking, if you are considering a transition to missional communities, you need to be convinced and convince others from the Scripture that:
- The purpose of Christian community is to be an apologetic for the gospel
- If a believer and community are not seeking to make disciples of Jesus, they are being disobedient
- The church is far more than simple attendance at events
The single largest challenge we faced in the transition was helping our leadership and people see how our actions as communities did not actually match our beliefs. Very few people were coming to faith, very few of our old groups could state a sense of purpose beyond themselves, very few were intentionally seeking to invite neighbors, and most of our people were content to simply gather at our functions.
Surely there had to be more to church than that! Missional community became rooted in conviction, but also practically applied into action.
What Can I Do?
In order to help foster these convictions in your leadership and your wider community, you can:
- Tell stories of other communities who are living a different way
- Provide a case for why this strategy is more fully biblical than the previous one
- Start honest discussions about the health of disciples in your church relative to God’s word, specifically in Acts
The Importance of Leadership
Finally, urgency must exist primarily in your leadership. In order for wholesale change to be successful, I think you’ll need ~75% of your leadership team to buy into the change. If you want to transition your church and be effective in the long haul, spend a considerable amount of time and energy building urgency and conviction in your core leadership before moving onto the next steps. Without this sense of conviction from your leadership, a transition to missional communities is doomed to be simply another program in the church.