How to Change Your Congregation

In our Vibrant Faith coaching relationships with congregations, we often tell ministry leaders: “If you want to change your congregation, change what you talk about.”

Our conversations must be aligned with our mission. Therefore, if we want to help our congregation live into its mission, then we have to make sure that sermons, meeting agendas, programs, events, and communications all address how we’re fulfilling the mission. For example, if you believe parents and homes are the true “engines” for generating a lifelong relationship with God in the lives of young people, then spend time at every council or session meeting talking about ideas and steps that fuel a home-centered, church-supported mission.

I can usually tell how committed a congregation is to their mission or a particular project simply by looking at their meeting agendas. Most agendas are filled with committee reports and sections called “old business” and “new business.” The last two categories are usually filled with whatever random things people want to talk about. They rarely have any connection to the congregation’s mission or strategic plan. Sometimes I challenge meeting conveners by saying, “Help me understand why you think this annual goal is important when nothing was said about it during your session meeting.”

What gets measured gets done. What gets discussed gets traction. Be intentional about what you’re measuring and what you’re discussing. it will change your life and your congregation! Meeting practices can make a huge difference in how transformation unfolds in your church. Here are a few other practices that can easily be introduced to the congregation and reap profound results:

  • Recite your congregation’s mission, vision, and values during worship and at all meetings.
  • Plan a five- to 10-minute conversation time that focuses on a particular aspect of your mission during meetings and events.
  • Set aside three minutes at the end of all meetings and events to evaluate the time
     spent together.
  • Once a month teach one new faith practice, tied to your mission, during worship or at a leadership meeting.
  • Have leaders share how lives are being changed as a result of living out your congregational mission.
  • Once a month, capture and share one video clip of “what God is up to” in the lives of people in your congregation—tied to your mission.
  • Provide monthly updates in communication conduits on progress made toward your mission.

Jim LaDoux is the longtime Director of Coaching Services for Vibrant Faith. Jim lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife—he has two adult sons. He’s been a coach since 1992, and has a Master of Management Arts and is a certified PCC (Professional Certified Coach). He’s author of the coaching manual Surface to Soul.


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