There is a whole lot of pessimism out there about the ability of traditional churches to change - and it is well deserved. It seems that while the world rolls on in the new millennium, churches often find themselves debating about whether to move boldly into the 1980’s.
Churches are notoriously resistant and slow to change. And as change, fueled by technology, becomes more rapid, churches fall further and further behind.
However, I have hope.
In my nine year call at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer we were able to change in some big ways. We brought children in from the margins of the congregation and gave them a central place in worship and community life. We created a growing community of young families that shifted the demographics of the church from older to younger. We oriented ourselves to newcomers and strangers, creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere so that people commented, “This is the most welcome we have ever felt in a church.” We embraced technology and social media as a means for connecting with one another and sharing the Gospel. We crossed a major threshold in response to the 2009 ELCA statement on human sexuality, and moved toward being a more open and accepting congregation for our GLBT brothers and sisters.
If we could accomplish these things, I believe other churches can too.
Here are the six things I found instrumental in bringing about congregational change: