I am not a young man. Though I encourage leaders to lead change, I realize in my advanced years, change can be more difficult. Routine is a comfort food.
It has been 34 years since I led my first church consultation. My team and I have done hundreds of on-site consultations, and we’ve conducted thousands of virtual consultations. I am not a novice in this area.
But experience is not the same thing as wisdom.
It is time for me to change.
How I Got to This Point
Since 1996 my consulting team and I have included a tool called the Know Your Church™ report in most of our consultations. Each year thousands of church leaders and members respond to 160 statements about their respective churches. We have millions of points of data. We can see in granularity the directions of churches for 26 consecutive years. It is priceless information.
It is not uncommon for churches to “score” low in the area of evangelism. These churches struggle to share the gospel with any type of consistency.
But in the past five years, the evangelism score has declined precipitously in churches. Since the pandemic, it has gotten worse. Much worse.
I tell church leaders and members that they can’t keep doing the same things the same way and expect different results. But I don’t always practice what I preach in the area of consultations.
This awareness became a breaking point for me recently.
My Own Wake-Up Call
Though you may take my words as hubris, I can say with confidence my team and I do great work at diagnostic consultations. I can also say with confidence that those churches that have been willing to implement our recommendations have seen incredible results.
But therein lies my stubbornness and stupidity. Fewer and fewer church leaders go forward with our recommendations. We give them the diagnosis and the proposed remedies and, for many, nothing happens. In fact, the majority do nothing. And I have not changed the process in response.
It’s like going to your physician who tells you that your health report is not good. But if you eat better, get exercise, and lose weight, your outlook is very positive.
Diagnosis without action is dead. Sometimes literally dead.
Our consulting diagnoses, though precise and accurate, often do not lead to change, particularly in evangelistic actions. The blame begins with me. Such is the reason I must change, and I must lead my team at Church Answers to change.
So we did.
The Hope Initiative
What if we changed the process of consultations? While still using our helpful tools, what if we worked with church leaders to move forward with hope and joy instead of dread and despair?
What if the process was clear and simple?
What if the initiative changed the culture of a church positively and dramatically?
What if the process resulted in the church reaching more people with the gospel?
What if the solution was not a burden?
What if church members were excited to be a part of the solution?
What if pastors and other church leaders moved their churches forward with Spirit-given optimism and joy?
Frankly, that is what we see taking place. We call it The Hope Initiative. And though we are still in beta tests with churches, we see God’s hands working. We see joy. We see hope. And we see culture-shifting change taking place.
I know. I am leaving out a lot of details. But we must continue the beta tests to see how God is working in these churches.
But I could not be more encouraged. In fact, I am more excited about being in ministry than at any point in my 40-year ministry. God has changed me. I needed the change. I have more hope than ever for churches
Such is the reason we call it The Hope Initiative.
You will hear more about this movement later this year.
To be continued . . .
Posted on July 11, 2022
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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