In our new book The Changing Church: Finding Your Way to God’s New Thing my friend and co-author, Bill Griffith, and I distinguish between two kinds of change congregations and their leaders often face. These are “continuous” and “discontinuous” change. Here’s an excerpt from chapter two where we define these types of change:
Continuous change, sometimes also referred to as incremental change, is change that is tied to past experience. In working through this type of change, we simply are making an adjustment in something we’ve had prior experience with and want to improve.
Discontinuous change is change for which we have no prior experience or reference point. It is change of a completely new direction or orientation, outside our experience and prior knowledge. Many of the challenges that congregations face today are of a discontinuous nature.
Which type of change have you found more common in your congregation’s ministry of late? How do you begin to approach discontinuous change? We invite you to pick up a copy of our book to learn more about this and how to have conversations with one another in a congregational setting.
“Phyllis Tickle, in her book, The Great Emergence, quoting Anglican Bishop Mark Dyer, suggests that about every 500 years the church has undergone a significant change. She refers to these periods of change as “rummage sales” and states that we are in the midst of such a period today. Tickle identifies former 500 year rummage sales as The Great Reformation (Oct. 31, 1517), The Great Schism (1054—Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic), the leadership and influence of Gregory the Great (540–590—following the fall of Rome and start of the Dark Ages), and the Crucifixion of Christ, which led to the birth of the Church at Pentecost.
I, (Dan), despise rummage sales, but it seems to be my fate in ministry to have served congregations that used them for fundraisers. Here’s my view on how they work. People bring their junk, their cast-offs, the stuff they want to get rid of (rummage) to the church and clutter it up. A committee spends an inordinate amount of time sorting through it all and arranging the rummage for others to peruse. Then, on the day of the sale, folks come with an eagerness to riffle through other people’s junk, finding prizes they simply cannot live without and paying pennies on the dollar to haul it away.
A few years after I listened to a podcast on The Lord’s Prayer by Adam Hamilton, I changed how I pray this final phrase of Jesus’ prayer. Hamilton suggested that we put a comma (,) after the words “Lead us,”. When you do this it changes the way you hear and pray this phrase.
How often do you ask the Lord to lead in your life? You may feel you do that fairly often. But when I’m honest, I am more likely to tell the Lord what I need and see if God will follow my lead. Are you? By inserting this comma after “lead us”, I have been reminded to seek God’s leading. I will even sit in silence sometimes, having been invited to pause by that comma, to consider what it is I need God’s leadership in that day or moment. I invite you to try it.
Five years ago I was given a bicycle by my family for Father’s Day. I began to explore our city’s public trail system and found that I enjoyed this form of exercise. Five years, two bike upgrades and a lot of miles later, my mental health is better and I’m in much better physical shape. I gradually began to push myself to take longer rides, leave the People Trail for county roads, and learn more about road cycling. In time the challenge of attempting a century ride began to creep into my thinking.
A century ride is a cycling ride of 100 miles or more completed within 12 hours, and is considered something of a rite of passage in the world of recreational cycling. Think marathon for a runner. While not at all impossible, attempting such a feat does require some preparation and training – which, in turn, takes time. So, blessed with a Sabbatical this summer, and the time to train, I set a bucket list goal of completing my first (and quite possibly only) century ride. Continue reading
This summer the congregation I partner with in ministry and I have been given a gift. It’s the gift of a sabbatical. By definition a sabbatical is to be a time of rest, renewal, reflection and refreshment. It shares the same root as the word “sabbath”. My understanding of sabbath is, in part, a disruption of the normal routine in order to be able to live a different rhythm. Just as the sabbath invites us to stop, worship, rest and rejoice – breaking the weekly rhythm of work and production; the hope of a sabbatical is to also live into a new, or different rhythm in order to pay attention to new and different things. One who has observed sabbath is ready to re-enter and re-engage in the routine of life, knowing that he or she is not at the center of keeping the world spinning. So is the hope of a sabbatical – to re-set one’s perspective and allow a refreshed and reinvigorated engagement in vocation for the next season. Continue reading