We already know, and have known for a long time, that “status quo” is never the goal of growing organizations or thriving faith communities. Stagnation is just the first stage in the death process. And yet, we can’t seem to quit the lure of entropy. Moving beyond the status quo also means we’re in a constant process of deconstruction—dismantling the things we love and have always “worked.”
So, what’s stopping us from challenging the status quo? Everything we love… And the safety we crave.
But here’s where we get to our calling as leaders. When a leader shies away from taking action to challenge the status quo, then what’s the point of that leadership?
True leadership is about upsetting the applecart in productive and intentional ways. Disruptive organizations find new solutions to the problems of the day—not in predictable and linear ways, but almost always in messy and loopy ways. If the status quo is like parking a car, leaders know it’s their job to turn the key and get the car moving. We try new things, evolve old things, and change our approach. That’s how we thrive together. The people we serve and the culture they live in are persistently changing. When we spend too much time looking back we’re studying a people and a culture that don’t exist anymore. Positive change is about building tomorrow, seeding changes that will blossom in a new reality.
Maybe you know pastors and church leadership teams that, prior to 2020, grappled with the growing trend of virtual gatherings in lieu of face-to-face meetings. These leaders incorporated web-streaming into their congregational engagement strategies and developed other ways to stay connected online and offline, to ensure ongoing contact and community regardless of physical distance. These attempts seemed visionary at the time, and certainly uncomfortable. Today, just a few years later, circumstances have quickly turned “visionary” into “universally practical.”
Church leadership teams that look for new solutions, challenge the rules of the game, and consider creative pathways are like kids learning to cook for the first time—they create messes that have to be cleaned up. But those messes morph into sustenance in the future. Leaders who live this mindset will create an environment that never settles for what is, but rather always looks forward to what could be.
What will be tomorrow’s ministry reinventions? It is up to leaders, in conjunction with their team members, to consider what changes to attempt for the benefit of their future success. What will positive change look like? Whatever else it is, it will always move the congregation forward. Called-by-God leaders encourage their congregation and team members to look forward instead of preserving the past. They prompt their people to scout for opportunities to improve and meet future needs.
- What’s one area of your congregation or organization that has accepted the status quo?
- What’s one way you can help disrupt the status quo?
- How do you expect that challenging the status quo will fuel your long-term growth?
Jason Bland is a certified leadership coach, trained in Vibrant Faith’s Ministry Leadership Coaching School. His coaching and consulting approach is focused on helping leaders find the solution that fits their unique personal & professional strategic goals.