What type of culture are we hoping to create? What are the elements we need to work on adjusting?
Most churches don’t have a culture of multiplication – to create one takes time and a healthy process of change-management.
As we have worked in and with many churches since 2004 to help transition into a healthy experience of spiritual formation, the following elements have proven vital in their consideration and application.
PNEUMA – the breath of God’s Spirit.
The apostles who changed the world in the book of Acts, were previously the disciples who ran on the night Jesus was betrayed. The difference was the power of God’s Spirit at work in their life.
True growth in disciples, leaders and churches must always include and prioritise the work of God Himself. In John 15:5 Jesus made clear that only those who abide in Him will bear fruit.
As A.W. Tozer famously said: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
Leaders must wrestle with the issues of renewal in their churches. Theological belief in the work of God is one thing, but how do we structure what we do to better embrace or invite that work?
This element alone has incredible significance for a church’s culture. We have found that taking a group of leaders through material such as re:FRESH is great for catalysing healthy discussion. Joining one of our mid-course weekend retreats also provides a glimpse of how a healthy experience of renewal can change lives.
PICTURE of a preferred future.
How do you want it to look if you get this right?
If people are to grow, what then? Does it lead anywhere? How will know when you are bearing the fruit Jesus promised?
Having as clear a picture as possible of where the road goes helps you determine what to say both yes and no too. It helps you focus resources and define outcomes.
At ConneXa we have a clear vision – to: Provide a framework and resource set that facilitates multiplication of disciples, leaders and churches.
We couldn’t settle for a church planting or leadership emphasis alone. The lack of healthy churches points to a longer term and foundational issue of inadequate disciple-making that has existed over decades.
But as Mike Breen has rightly observed in Building Discipleship Culture: “If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples”.
ConneXa itself is the outworking of the vision of Kenmore Church. We are committed to: Build a vibrant, multi-service church that equips reproducing disciples, and resources other churches to do the same.
What is your vision for discipleship and mission? Can you explain it? Do your people know and advocate for it? A clear picture of success is vital in achieving it.
PATHWAYS to growth.
In practice, spiritual formation includes both movement and moments. Movement is the consistent direction we head in, being faithful in our practices and priorities.
Moments are those defining instances where we experience quickened transformation – these often make up the highlight reel of our Christian journey.
There is a place for both in our discipleship, and a good framework understands the key points where we get stuck, requiring a moment where God brings grace to break through.
Any pathway of growth needs to actually work. And it must facilitate spiritual growth, not merely church growth. Many church pathways are, in reality, a way to help people integrate in and serve on the team – they grow the church not the person. This is a major reason why church leaders and church plants are in short supply – we haven’t built disciples who become leaders.
The GrowthTRACK pathway addresses this comprehensively. It considers the complexity of formation and provides proven tools to enable you to build a genuine and fruitful pathway for your church. It also integrates fully the four catalysts for growth which are vital in bringing about real change in people.
PHRASES - language that sticks.
Culture is often identified by its language. Memorable phrases, words with localized meaning, icons that represent ideas and history.
Once we have a framework for the culture we are wanting to create – it’s the language that we need to define and bring to the fore.
What terms and catch-phrases are currently heard and understood at your church? Are they the ones you want for the future? Determine the language you want to highlight, use it frequently and tell stories around it. Repetition and visualization will greatly assist the journey of culture change.
PROGRAMS that work
Ironically, all that you see at ConneXa didn’t begin as a well thought through vision or strategy. It began as a single program which has evolved to become re:FORM.
As a pastor of spiritual formation in 2004, the author (Patrick Hegarty) was looking for a resource that initiated a thorough process of transformation in people. Nothing suitable could be found, so he wrote one.
And it worked! In fact, it worked far better than could be imagined, and people soon began lining up from churches broadly to be a part. And they continue to do so 20 years later.
That experience demonstrated that people will flock to something that does what is needed and meets their valid needs.
We continue to design primary programs for each season of the spiritual seasons. They are created in such a way that people can do them over and over as they cycle through growth seasons from an ever-growing place.
These programs aren’t meant to stand alone or be the sole source of growth. But they do play an important part in catalysing important moments and inciting forward movement. However, our framework also includes many other tools to help people continue their forward movement in a healthy way.
PEOPLE that bring grace
Content alone won’t change us. A program or online course is not enough to form our soul.
We need people – up close, in-person and on the ground with us.
Having the right people at the right place and time is a huge help in the discipleship journey.
And so we can invest time in equipping teams of group facilitators, disciplers, prayer ministers and others who all play a part in a different but vital way.
Many of our resources are aimed at equipping such teams.
These six “P’s” are easier articulated than implemented. We can provide training and coaching in how to take that journey – contact us at ConneXa.