If you are a regular participant, but not very involved in leadership activities, you probably have one perspective. You see a lot of energy, new faces, new ideas, and enthusiasm. Everything is great, right?
Well, yes, you're right. We have so much to celebrate, and we're grateful for the ways in which God has brought two churches together as one, and has added to our number.
If you are involved in leadership at New Springs, you see another perspective. Gratefully, it isn't negative, but it does reveal more of the journey that we're sharing together. Coming together, and even making the formal steps of becoming a new congregation, were really just first steps. The journey continues, and today I thought I would share an update with everyone.
First, a bit of information about how change happens in organizations. Dr. John Kotter of the Harvard Business School wrote a classic book about this called Leading Change. Here are his 8 steps to meaningful change:
If you look at the diagram, you can imagine where New Springs Community is right now. We have felt the urgency that required a change. We've built a guiding team of leaders. We've established a vision for the church. We've communicated, acted, and we've already seen some short-term wins. In a purely linear experience (point A to point B), we could say we are at the "Don't let up" and "Make it stick" portion of the journey. I think that would be a bit over-simplified. Like many other journeys in life, we will cycle back through all of these steps as we take the journey of discovering God's mission for New Springs Community.
There is still a lot of communication about the vision, buy-in, and action. Our staff, leaders, and elders are constantly having conversations. Did we miss anything? Does everyone understand? How does this work again? What is the goal? What is the role of an elder in our new church? What is the role of a staff member? What is the role of a volunteer? How are decisions made? What financial and personnel policies will we adopt? How do we prioritize and finance projects or expenses that aren't currently included in the budget? What happens when we disagree? You can imagine the questions, and the hard work being done.
The good news is that we're asking those questions, and doing the hard work, with that spirit of energy and enthusiasm I mentioned before. It isn't always easy. But the feeling I get is that our group of leaders sees the possibilities, has embraced the journey, and is willing to do the work necessary to keep the process going, and growing.
This is important. Based on the information I've read, and the conversations I've shared with others around the country, I would expect that we will find ourselves in this transition for a year or more before we truly "feel" like the new church we're called to be. During that time, I expect that there will be bumps, bruises, and probably misunderstandings. You can expect those things too! We won't be surprised if someone struggles, or has a question, or voices disagreement. In fact, we will welcome those expressions as part of a healthy community. We'll build trust, and ask people to share in healthy conversation/debate. We'll make the best decisions we can, trying to discern God's will. We'll live out those decisions in faith, trusting in God's promise.
Bottom line: the transition is going well, but the transition is still happening! How can you help? Pray, and participate! Pray for New Springs Community. Pray for our leaders, our staff, and all of the volunteers. Pray for our community. Participate in worship. Participate in small groups. Participate in spiritual formation opportunities. Participate in volunteer service. Participate as a leader. I think you get the idea.
I'm deeply grateful to God for the great things we have been experiencing thus far in our transition. I'm hopeful and excited about the future. I'm committed to the process, and I'm learning to be patient.