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If you wanna be the man….

When I was much younger, there was a professional wrestler (yes, I know it’s fake) named Ric Flair who was as famous for his mouth as for his wrestling moves. His signature rants often ended in an emphatic “Woo!” One of the recurring themes of his infamous tirades was the assertion that “if you wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man!,” insinuating that if you wanted to be the top dog, you had to go through him. When churches and organizations go through transitions and have to proactively change things in an accelerated way rather than just evolving, there is a need to develop some “rants” of our own, or some phrases that help us define what we are trying to do and why we are trying to do it. One of those that rolls around in my head all the time says this. “If you wanna be a church of 300, you have to act like a church of 300.” (Feel free to put a number in the rant that works for your organization.) Like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, it is a philosophy that says “if you build it, they will come.”

Realistically, small and declining churches and non-profits tend to stay small and continue to decline because their structure, DNA, and culture are designed to maintain or decline. They never purposefully decided to stay small or decline but they allowed certain processes to evolve and over the years, institutionalized cultural norms that hinder growth and vitality. The problem is that it happens so gradually that if feels normal and we just don’t understand why we continue to sink.

I serve a church currently as transitional pastor that is having to learn that language. In a 20 year period of plateau and decline, they have adapted and grown accustomed to some processes and procedures that helped them survive. Unfortunately, those survival techniques rarely work if you want to get beyond survival to thriving.

The good news is our organization is that there is a pervasive sense of optimism among our membership right now and a desire to move forward and again be a part of God’s Kingdom advance here in our city. I think there is potential for them to grow from where they are to be a church of 300+ without having to build or relocate, both very unrealistic expectations for them right now. So, we are spending a lot of our time rebuilding ministry teams and infrastructure that will attract and care adequately for 300. After all, if you are going to be a church of 300, you have to act like a church of 300.

What are some of the processes you have discovered in your organizations over the years that have hindered the advance of the group vision?

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