Jason Butler: Disruption is often the key to renewal

www.faithandleadership.com | 7/23/2019 | Staff
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Report after report reveals this difficult truth: church attendance is going down.

Many leaders are considering what to do with congregations that are in the midst of dramatic decline.

Church - Offers - Churches - Answer - Rejuvenation

While church planting offers hope, is starting new churches really the only answer? Is congregational rejuvenation possible?

As someone who has both planted a new church and entered into the rejuvenation of another, experience has taught me that disruption, though difficult, can be the key to breathing new life into a stagnant system.

Church - Group - People - Worshipping - Community

Ultimately, a church is a group of people who have come together to form a worshipping community, and this community inevitably (and properly so) creates a system to maintain their communal and missional lives together.

This system is maintained through a complex microculture of language, values, beliefs and habits.

System - Time - System - Excess - Habits

When a system is not thriving, most of the time it is because the system has accumulated an excess of bad habits that weigh it down and work to reform its culture in a negative direction.

This usually happens in a church when a congregation gets tired and doesn’t have enough positive outcomes to release the energy of communal endorphins. Just as in our everyday life, when we get tired and are stuck in a “grind,” we seek convenience and self-preservation instead of generous self-giving.

Problem - System - People - System - Habits

The problem with a system that is not flourishing is not the people within the system but the habits of those people.

Habits that began as positive actions may over time in fact inhibit the desired outcomes of a congregation. “Old habits die hard,” not because of laziness or weakness, but because we often unconsciously attach our identities to the habits we engage in.

Identities - Things - Self-meaning

If we build our central identities around what we do, then to stop doing those things is to lose our self-meaning -- and ultimately, to feel as though we are...
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