Brad Bergfalk has a couple of posts up lately on change in the church, Why Churches Canâ€™t Changeâ€“ Part 1 and Why Churches canâ€™t Change or The Truth about Church Revitalization. Though there are several good nuggets in these two posts, two that I take away are (1) change requires crisis:
The rule of thumb about change is that change is directly proportional to the perceived level of crisis that an individual or organization goes through in relation to the perceived pain associated with the change being proposed. So in simple terms, if the crisis looms large and the pain quotient is low, then change can occur.
and (2) change begins at the “bottom”:
[I]n every case, there is one common factor for each [successfully revitalized church] that I have observed. When the pastor arrived, the church was about the close their doors and they had come to the recognition that this was the last stop. …[C]hurch revitalization occurs when there is a convergance of factors that result in congregation and pastor recognizing that neither has the personal resources to do anything that will result in growth and change.
Basically this is two ways of saying much the same thing. For change to take place, a measure of desperation is required. This of course leads to an odd prognosis… for the generations-old inner-city church that’s facing extinction, they face the prospect of fresh new life, of emergence from the brink of extinction, when they become desperate enough to try anything. On the other hand, for the decade(s)-old church in the ‘burbs that maintains a steady stream of middle-class traffic, they will simply never (or at least, not any time soon) reach the level of crisis and desperation that is realized from the harsh reality of finding oneself “at the bottom.” This is bad news for the generations that follow, the ones who can’t relate to the babyboomerist ‘burban churches and may find themselves gravitating toward the desperation of the inner city churches, the refreshingly revitalized ones.
Many cities are experiencing a rebirth or revitalization of their inner cities at the same time, which places a whole new crowd if similarly-minded people within easy reach of drastically morphing churches becoming revitalized.
Just thinking out loud — have I outlined a connection here, or is it a little tenuous? Musing….