How Are you Going to Keep Your Congregation Engaged and Relevant?
We’re now in a culture that has lost its trust in institutions, including churches. The fastest growing religious segment is those who identify as “none” – they no longer self-identify as religiously inclined.1 They are seeing church as irrelevant and dogma as oversimplified platitudes or outdated beliefs. They’re finding community outside of the church.
Even among believers, church attendance is dropping. “53% of church members say ‘I’m never asked to contribute my strengths in the life of this church.”2 As a result, many simply participate rarely or not at all.
The challenge is staying relevant. How can churches engage their congregations and rebuild credibility in the community and beyond?
Church leaders need to take a stand. The truth is, it takes reinvented leaders to create reinvented congregations. What made the leader successful in the past will no longer work in today’s world. For church culture to change, the leaders must change first.
I Started as a Pastor and Fresh-Faced Idealist Who Thought He Could Change the World
After all, I was born into the family business – I’ve been steeped in the world of the church. I was a 5th-generation church member and a 4th-generation pastor. Though I don’t work primarily in that world anymore, I still have the capacity to go back into that world and understand it completely.
In college, I contemplated being a concert pianist, but what brought me to pastoring was the conviction that I could actually use my music in my pastoral ministry. It became my professional signature – preach a sermon and then end by singing a song I wrote about the theme. My creativity and dedication to the art of expression shines through in whatever I do.
In my thirty years as a pastor, I focused on preaching inspiring sermons, empowering my church members, shepherding with compassion at important moments of people’s lives, and casting a vision for how my congregations could help transform the world.
As happens to every leader in this kind of role, I was confronted by some intense challenges. Not everyone liked me (difficult for us people-pleasers), and some congregations didn’t want to change (even more difficult for us Maximizers). Every church has "sacred" traditions they don’t want messed with, or a desire to keep the status quo instead of innovating.
So after thirty years of experience in the trenches of the local church, as well as now fifteen years working as a full-time consultant, coach, and professional speaker, I’ve honed my strategy and ideas about what can be changed, what can’t, and what to do about it. My idealism still drives me toward the most effective preferred future that can change my corner of the world. But it’s combined with a grounded, thoughtful, creative, evidence-based perspective that allows churches to excel in what they do.