June 27, 2012
Some Myths about Revitalization (And TCN)*
A “myth” or “urban myth” or “urban legend” may be defined as a second hand story told as true and just plausible enough to be believed, but is in fact, not true at all. Well, there are a few “stories” out there about revitalization that may be helpful to address. In no particular order:
Myth number one: All churches must have a weekend consultation
The fact is that less than half of all churches in our network have had a consultation.
This myth probably came about because initially TCN (Transforming Churches Network) first conducted weekend Consultations after which the Coaching of pastors and Learning Communities for pastors were formed. The truth is that the design has always been to have these three essential ingredients working together for revitalization, not just the one. Moreover, as TCN has matured we have learned that some congregations require different approaches taken in different ways. Additional tools for revitalization include a congregational assessment, congregational as well as pastoral coaching, missional activities for the whole congregation, a process for developing a new vision for ministry and the weekend consultation which is optional. There are many ways to approach revitalization depending on the congregation involved and these and other tools can be used virtually at any time. A customized approach to revitalization is what is important.
Myth number two: TCN takes a “One Size Fits All” approach
Similar to the first myth, this one comes from suggestions that all prescriptions are the same, they tell everyone to do the same thing, and so on. The truth is that TCN has always had a customized approach, even with the weekend consultations. When weekend consultations have taken place, each church receives a report that identifies five strength areas, five concerns and five prescriptions that are specific to that particular ministry.
It is true that revitalization often happens when an internally focused church turns their attention outward and when the church resolves to fulfill Jesus’ calling to be salt and light to their surrounding community. Therefore it may appear that prescriptions sound similar. Yet the approach taken for each pastor and congregation is customized for their church and community.
Myth number three: TCN always advocates a Functional Board Structure of church governance, also known as the Accountable Leader Model
Congregations often lament that they follow a burdensome governance process that is slow to respond to ministry opportunities and ties the hands of decision makers and ultimately those who wish to carry out the work. Yet this does not translate into a prescription that everyone should change their governance. When a change in structure is prescribed on a consultation report, it is often listed as a last item to be accomplished and described as a move to a functional board that works efficiently for them. This is so that the structure will serve the change that has taken place to that point.
A related myth is that TCN advocates that the pastor be the “CEO.” Not true. There is a legitimate role for the pastor to be involved not only in preaching, teaching, administering the sacraments and pastoral care, but also in the leadership of the mission and vision of the congregation. It is encouraged that the pastor be the leader of the ministry and steward that role in his work with both staff and members who serve in that place.
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