Scott Hodge

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Interesting Observation…and an invite to RESPOND.

Jul 15, 2009
11 Comments

Seems like 2 or 3 years ago, most conversation about church change/transition was happening among SMALLER (100-300) to MEDIUM sized (300-500) churches who were seeking to move from a “traditional” format to a more “contemporary” style/approach.

Now…..in many of my conversations with pastors and church leaders, it seems like there are whole lot more LARGER sized (1,000-3,000+) “contemporary” churches who are now seeking to transition to something new & different.

Your turn.  And I’m serious when I say this.  I would LOVE to hear from you – ESPECIALLY if you are in the midst of a change/transition initiative. 

(And since it’s likely that smaller sized and “less known” church leaders will feel more “freedom” to reply, please…BIG DOGS…feel free to comment anonymously because I know many of you read my blog.  Or at least USED TO – before being referred to as a “big dog”.  LOL.)

Also, I would love for you to include three pieces of info in your response:

  1. Church Size

  2. Type of Transition (Philosophical or Stylistic?  From WHAT to WHAT?)

  3. What is the SINGLE GREATEST CHALLENGE you are facing in leading your church through this change?

Bring it!  And thanks.


11 Responses to “Interesting Observation…and an invite to RESPOND.”

  1. 100 person church, small town Minnesota
    Transitioning from being inward focused to an in and outward balance
    The biggest challenge is that many are happy how it is/has been. It’s worked for them for a long time. So creating and casting the vision is huge. It impacts our children’s ministry, music ministry, the way we do communion, how we greet at the door, and pretty much everything else. There is nothing I have said is off limits, which threatens and scares some people.
    But along with that, I have tried to make the changes in a gradual way, not in an abrupt way, so that they are better received (and less noticeable). The trade off is that the change isn’t immediate, so I have to live with the tension, but in the long run I think it is been a healthy way to do it, and we are definately seeing change occur.

  2. adam lehman says:

    Size: 250
    Type of Transition: from pastor driven church to lay-people driven church with staff directing.
    Single Greatest Challenge: Changing a culture of everyone going directly to the sr. pastor for all needs to a culture of delegation, lay-empowerment, and outward focus.

  3. anonymous says:

    Pastor’s wife, in between two church.
    Seeing both transitioning between, as Beth Moore puts it in her ‘Esther’ study, from being special (e.g., focusing on style, the show, the building, programs in the church, etc) to being useful for God. I have to say both of the churches already have a heart for and are being ‘useful’, but I’m seeing/hearing about a significant desire to go more that direction. They want it to be far more than the Sunday show. They want their people to experience something deeper and then get out there and impact their communities. I know, it’s the concept of missional living. However, I think the challenge frequently surfaces in taking this theoretically, great concept to something everyday Christ followers will/can carry out daily, where they are at..in the moments of everyday life (i.e.,not relying on the church to organize the mission and then simply volunteer–although that is important for modeling purposes). Another challenge: how much of the specialness (building, programs, show, etc) has to be in place to get people in the church to empower them to become the church? A bit cliche’ but true.

  4. Randy Mellichamp says:

    Size 200
    Type of transition – Family oriented to minister to parents, children, and students
    Greatest Challenge – Getting people to take ownership and keep it. Having a hard time because everything wen through the last leader and it created a plug in the ministry field.

  5. Randy says:

    I for one am sick of hearing about the traditional v.s. contemporary approach. Speaking as a lay person, I left a church where many wanted desperately to transition to a contemporary style. The main problem as I see it is what I call the “leisure suit” scenario. Back in the 70′s everyone wore leisure suits, they were all the rage. Wearing a leisure suit was what one did to be “hip” “relevant” and “cutting edge”. Now, you wear a leisure suit if you are going to a costume party and even then you look pretty ridiculous! I see the modern day, purpose driven church as the leisure suit. I wanted something more than “Jesus is my buddy” and Livin’ Venti. I needed someone who died for me because I’m a miserable sinner. I needed a transcendent, holy God who was something more than the latest “fad du jour”. I didn’t want to equate God with what’s popular, because I’m old enough to know that’s what is popular today will be placed on the trash heap of irrelevance tomorrow. I rejected everything associated with the modern day, entertainment, fad driven church and now worship at a more orthodox church.
    Forget traditional! Its the traditional bapticostal American church (which thumbs its nose at anything transcendent) that has brought us to this traditional v.s. contemporary problem. Its simply one narcissistic generation (young people wanting contemporary) wanting to force a style on another narcissistic generation (old folks wanting traditional). In orthodoxy, its good to chant and sing hymns knowing that millions of people have done the same throughout Christian history. It is very comforting to know that each week we will speak and chant large amounts of scripture through the liturgy rather than be subjected to the latest whims of a pastor acting like a frat boy.

  6. Can we somehow delineate that this randy is not that randy. Amen. Let’s stand.

  7. Need a turn around... says:

    Church of 150, I mean 140, I mean 125, I mean 120, I mean 100, I mean 80, I mean…
    Type of Transition: To stop slowly dying. There’s plenty of blame to go around (people not being outward focused, people not wanting to serve, bad reputation in the community) but more and more the key to the situation seems to be the leadership/ministry/preaching style of the Senior Pastor. But, how do you tell that to a man you love and respect and who’s heart in the right place?

  8. Braden says:

    congregation size 1,100
    change or transition….simplifying EVERYTHING and cutting ministry staples that have been part of the fabric of the congregation for nearly 35 years.
    greatest challenge…are we willing to risk what has gotten us where we are for the promise of a reward from a book? I am!

  9. Bryan McGee says:

    Congregation Size: 350
    Transition:
    Began transitioning about 5 years ago from a church that focused more on the already mature and church savvy to those who have no idea who Jesus is. This meant changing… a LOT.
    - Services times changed from 2++ hours to 1.5. It was amazing how much more power and impact happens when we plan.
    - Moved to a team approach to ministry. Now the worship and arts teams are a part of helping deliver the message instead of finding out what’s coming along with the rest of the church.
    - Relating the messages more to the culture around us. Now people understand better how to bring the Gospel into their world.
    - Moved from mindset of staff doing the work of ministry to our staff equipping our church to do the work of ministry. More ministry takes place today with 40% less staff compared to 4 years ago.
    - Prophetic ministry became more balanced and significant. Think quality not quantity.
    - Stopped several very good ministries that people loved so we could focus on the core areas.
    - Moved from a church with small groups to a church of small groups. It’s amazing how changing one little word changed our whole philosophy of ministry.
    - Realized that seeker sensitive and Spirit filled are not diametrically opposed to each other. When we understood that Holy Spirit was sent to remind us of everything Jesus taught it became clear that Holy Spirit 1st, Jesus 2nd was a backwards philosophy. It’s all because of Jesus that we are here.
    We also transitioned leadership as my father and I changed roles. Last August, on the 20th anniversary of our church, my father stepped aside as the senior pastor of the church he founded so that I could become the senior leader. I am blessed to say he did not retire. My father and mother both serve on our senior leadership team as founding pastors working full time and cheering on the next generation. There are very few examples of this actually working. I am grateful to have my parent’s wisdom to draw on as I lead our church and our church is stronger because of the depth of their experience.
    Biggest Challenge: We are continuing to navigate the land mines of leading a mutli-racial, multi-generational church in the deep south. We have replanted our church over the last 5 years and still have quite a few people who came in the first year of our ministry. Staying true to the foundational principles of our church while reaching a new generation of unchurched people is… let’s just say, I gotta pray just to make it today.

  10. Kris says:

    Church of 450 in Honolulu
    Transition: We’re a 50 year old church. My husband took the job as lead pastor four months ago. Before that, the church had an interim pastor for four years and was absorbed as an extension campus of one of its daughter churches. In the process of rebirthing the church. We’re calling it a “rebirth to reach more”–changing locations next month and replanting in January.
    Moving from a programs, events-based model to being more missionally focused. Retaining biblical accuracy while also being contextually relevant to our community and culture.
    Challenges: 1. Rebuilding our 20-40 year old core. We have a great youth ministry, and a lot of 40+ year olds, but lost a lot of our college and young adults when we merged. 2. Building the right team to get the job done. 3. Changing the culture to where every member sees themselves a minister and is intentionally and actively engaging the unchurched in their community.

  11. Hurting says:

    From a person who does not attend church and wants to…I am looking for a church, traditional or contemporary, that would accept mw for where I am and not force rules on me. I used to be a Christian, but walked away. The churches that I went to were so focused on gelling me what to do they lost why THEY got in it. I think a church that focuses on how to have a relationship with God, not a relationship with rules, wins out every time. I see so many happy “Godly” people that I would love to be happy like that, but they live by a set of rules that someone interpreted out of the Bible, I can’t live like that. I think that the question should not be transitioning from traditional to contempory, it should be how do we become a church with no walls. Jesus lived and walked among the worst, did not judge, or tell them how to live. He just loved them. From that they wanted to do anyhing for him. Stop focusing on your church, and focus on your people and love them, support them, and listen to them. I have a son who has austism, I was just in a mental institution, my husband came home from War a different man, we live with my parents because we took a 20% paycut, and now we have to pay all of our medical expenses up to $10,000, because the company changed their insurance policy. How would you help me, minister to me and my family? I want a church who listens and cares, and I don’t care if it is a traditional or contemorary church.

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