Growing Your Church: Responsively

Week four of our exploration into UK church growth, we have covered HospitalityInclusivity  Leadership and we find ourselves this week looking at the topic of responsiveness. What does that look like? Before we delve into that here is an example of responsiveness.

Back in my parents day, TV Programmes were in black and white, the tv remote didn’t exist, and you actually had to press buttons on the telly! The news was listened to on the radio, viewed on the telly or read in the newspaper. Plasma, LED or touch screens didn’t exist, and the internet was confined to company communications.

Over the last 20 years, society has undergone a radical change, communities have  embraced the computer revolution.  There were silver surfer clubs, courses sprung up teaching people how to use the internet, write on a word processor rather than the electronic typewriter and so on and so on.

People were encouraged to get equipped and up to date and get online. Who can remember the sound of first modems? (click here to listen) Now long replaced by the quiet hum and blinky lights of modern routers.

Over time, as people have encountered the digital revolution help was at hand, there were people who would teach and offer assistance of many kinds. So that wherever you were on the scale of learning, your needs were met as you signed up to your digital life.

The point of today’s post is to consider what responsiveness looks like in terms of our church focus. We have seen that society has shifted massively from analogue to a digital existence and that there has been an understanding that people engage in their digital life in different ways and in using different methods.

The research suggests that how we are responsive across the life of the church really, really matters. Underpinning church based responsitivity is that we do not live in Christendom, not everyone knows the Lord’s Prayer. There are so many different spiritual, theological and philosophical ideas out there that the question of what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus inevitability gets jumbled up.

In short, if the life we offer people is a life following Jesus, we need to find ways for people to access that new life in Christ.

How do we help people then, at their point of access to the Christian faith?  Do we offer one type of worship or many, one way of being a Christian and discovering faith or several?

Responsive churches are in their DNA are flexible and willingly find ways to respond to different needs. They find approaches that engage a range of people and their own place in the walk of discipleship.

“People who are negative, who try to prevent change, rather than excluding them. Bringing these on board was seen as necessary for the church to grow.”

It’s easier said than done, we will always have those people for whom change is too difficult, and we should be responsive to them too.

looking for new initiatives keeping in step with what God is doing. Allowing those who don’t want to do the ‘new thing’ to enjoy the current expression of church, however still moving ahead with the willing.

The research says unsurprisingly, that different kinds of small discipleship groups, engaging in people’s faith development, leadership that was flexible and open to new ideas and who have the enthusiasm to meet the needs facing them were crucial in growing that diverse tapestry of faith development.

Would we love to go to a church where we were not told to sit in a particular seat, but instead find a space where we could flourish?

It’s not to say we should be tossed around by the waves of change, but instead church communities should steer a course that means for most, if not all, they could find a spiritual home centred on and in Christ.

Link to the research Leading Together in Growing Methodist Churches’ webpage can be found here

Look back across the series on church growth:

Week 1: Grow Your Church: Hospitality

Week 2: Growing Your Church Inclusivity 

Week 3: Growing Your Church: Leadership

 

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  1. Pingback: The Media-Savvy Church | God Life Church

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