A new study just completed by our General Board of Discipleship about congregational health and vitality has underscored the importance of developing adaptive leadership teams in local churches.
After an in-depth analysis of 158 congregations, church health was found to be directly related to a strong pastor and a small team of laity being able to form an adaptive team for the purpose of prayer, discernment and vision casting. The study confirms for me, once again, the critical importance of a pastor, along with a few spiritually mature lay persons, forming a lead team within the church. This lead team (5-10 people) takes responsibility for guiding the mission and ministry of the local church. The lead team works with the Administrative Council and other church groups to set priorities for the church.
The lead team models for the whole church what it means to love, learn and lead together for the sake of making disciples for Jesus Christ, thus transforming the community and the world. The lead team constantly evaluates the ministry of the church in light of its community context, reflects on its fruitfulness/effectiveness, recommends adjustments and then helps the church implement changes. The lead team helps the church take its own context into consideration when deciding how to alter its ministry in order to work toward health and vitality.
There are no "magic programs" that will cause our churches to become healthy. There are no text books for adaptive change that will be appropriate for all of our 806 churches here in Kentucky. Deep change - real change - depends on a spirit-led pastor and laity who will commit themselves to prayer, hard work and personal accountability in order to breathe new life into their church. This type of change can happen in churches of any size, anywhere in Kentucky. If you want to commit to leading your church to health and vitality, our Annual Conference leaders are more than ready and able to help you get started.
This past year our conference grew by 293 members. It is our second consecutive year for a positive growth in membership, but it is a very modest increase. I am grateful for this increase in disciples made, but I am yearning for us to make an even greater impact in 2013. We live in a state where, by conservative estimates, over two million people are not a part of a community of faith of any kind. So, creating healthy churches is not really for us - it is for them. Adaptive leadership teams in local churches are the key to vitality and reaching new people for Christ.