An historic meeting took place on Monday, May 19, 2014 in Morrison. Fourteen individuals, representing three congregations (First Christian Reformed Church of Fulton (IL), Bethel Christian Reformed Church of Fulton, and the Morrison (IL) Christian Reformed Church), came together, with the authorization of their Councils, to discuss a future of shared ministry. The conversation was led by Sam Hamstra, founder of ChapterNext. The two hour meeting characterized by hope and joy as the participants embraced the promise that God is able to do far more than we ask or imagine by His power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20-21).
The group decided to explore in a model of ministry employed by a growing number of large congregations: “One Church Multiple Locations.” Basically, this model would allow three congregations to function as one. Of course, there are many more conversations that need to take place in order to flesh out the details of that model. So, the group will meeting every month for as many months as it takes.
The first meeting also included a walk through an article by Dr. Duane Kelderman entitled “Why is Change So Difficult?” The article appeared in the May 2014 edition of the Banner. The article helped the group understand that they are about the difficult task of adaptive change – the task of changing culture, values and behaviors. It provided three great practices which will prove essential:
1. Be hopeful. Remember that adaptive work, while murky and often painful, is the way to new life. Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Like Jesus, organizations go through death and resurrection. Adaptive work is the way to new life.
2. Pray. Expect God to work and reveal new things in these searching times. Too often the church functionally operates as though it doesn’t need God but can do just fine with its latest management techniques and problem-solving skills. The church on its knees before God is in a position where it will finally look to God to act.
3. Focus on the mission. The irony of the gospel is that when churches try to save their life, they lose it; but when churches are willing to lose their life for Christ’s sake, they find it. The goal of adaptive work in the church is not institutional survival. It is rediscovering our mission, our true identity. Churches that focus on their own institutional survival die. Churches that lose their life for God’s sake find life, even though that life may look very different from past institutional forms.