In Competing for the Future, the author challenges the widely held idea that short term incremental changes will effectively prepare your organization for the future. In the local church, incremental change is the approach most leaders take. The idea of “tweaking” the service, ministries, programs, etc. is the predominate method of getting ready for the future.
Hamel highlights the strategies of companies that were setting themselves apart as “different” in this book. In the world of the local church, I believe this concept of “different” can apply. The challenge for the church is identifying what you are trying to be “different ” from.
The local church needs to be different from
1) the other non church options that are available and
2) the negative perceptions of the local church.
Let’s dig deeper.
1. Other options.
The real competition for the Sunday morning time slot is no longer other churches. Rather it is golf, tennis, the beach, the bay, sleeping in, family time, soccer, working out, and a few other leisure options. (After reading that list, I think I may take this Sunday off!) Can the church compete with all of those? Yes. It must just be a positive “different”. One that gives things none of these others can deliver.
2. Negative perceptions.
Many who do not attend church will tell you that have very specific reasons for that choice. They will often give stories of bad experiences in the past or paint a negative picture of what they expect the church experience will be like. You have to be “different” from those experiences and fears to get them.
Another key is seeing the societal trends and being ready to deal with them.
Are you ready for:
- A financial environment that means people give less and expect more?
- An economy that creates higher expenses to do the same ministry?
- A complete lack of loyalty commitment to any one church?
- A demand that what you talk about from the pulpit relates DIRECTLY to my life?
- An expectation for the church to give a “return on investment” of time and money?
These are just some of the trends that the local church is beginning to face and will continue to face for the next decade. Are you ready?
- What are the key “core competencies” that you must master to survive the new reality?
- What practices/programs must you abandon?
- What must you add?
What must you fundamentally change in order to be “different”enough to survive and be effective in your mission in the new reality?
Take a long term view of the decisions you are making today, for they will determine your ability to survive tomorrow.