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church ministry

Church Benchmarking Trip

jimmorrow asked a couple great questions in the last post on Granger Community Church about what we were looking for on the trips to Willow Creek and Granger.

In this trip we (Resurrection senior staff) visited what I would characterize as two different types of congregations – one that was larger than we are are and one whose style of ministry and life together is noticeably different than at Resurrection. I think that the main purpose while at the sites was to listen and to look. At each site we met with members of the staff or key volunteers and heard about how they do ministry. We also had the opportunity to see the main worship space and a few other areas of the physical space. At both Granger and Willow, these things were different than what we do at Resurrection. I found at both locations that my imagination was stretched in type of facility and way of doing ministry.After visiting both locations we had the opportunity to debrief as a team about what we had heard and seen. Adam Hamilton lead us in reflecting on these questions:

  • In what areas was the vision and character of Resurrection similar to Willow and Granger?
  • In what areas was the vision and character of Resurrection distinct from Willow and Granger?
  • What is it that we saw that challenged us to do better than we are?

These questions led to some fruitful discussion. Later on the bus, the three of us who were present from the Congregational Care team were discussing specific implications for our ministry area. Adam joined our conversation for a bit and added another question for us to consider.

  • What are we doing that we think is more effective than what we saw?

This was a question that one has to undertake with some humility, but is an important one to consider. It was pointed out that seeing things that are new and different does not necessarily mean that it is better than what is currently happening at Resurrection. I found this to be a helpful additional question and one best considered after seriously thinking about the first three.

I would recommend this type of trip for any congregation. It is great to get outside the box, see and hear what others are doing in the kingdom of God and learn to be more effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ.

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

5 replies on “Church Benchmarking Trip”

I thought of your posts when I read Schnase’s blog at 5 practices:

“In congregations that are thriving, the pastor and staff are constantly learning. They are reading, searching the internet, traveling across the country for learning events. They are on the phone, checking with colleagues, visiting other churches. They are constantly figuring things out. Whenever there is a challenge or obstacle, they work the problem through with tons of collaboration and contact with inside and outside sources.

And the congregations are learning, also. Leadership Teams are reading common books, they get together for problem-solving and visioning sessions, they travel to learn from other congregations, they bring in outside consultants, pastors, musicians, and laypersons from other congregations to learn from.”

Andrew- Thanks for a great post. Very interesting. As I read your post, especially at the end with the suggestion that you would recommend this type of trip for any congregation, it made me think. My brain drizzle (it can’t really be described as a storm unfortunately) led to a question that I am curious to get your response to: How do these kind of ideas transplant to a new church start, or a congregation that is much smaller with less resources? I.E. it seems to me that COR has the ability to do some things that not just any church can do. But I think I am probably tempted sometimes to use that as an excuse for not being more creative, or pushing the envelope. My honest reaction after reading your post was, yeah right, like my church leadership could go on a trip to Willow Creek. But then I sort of caught myself and thought, well why couldn’t we? So, I’m curious if you have thought about this challenge any, and if so what conclusions you have come to.

Kevin Watson, you pose a good question…how can such an experience relate to a church that does not have the same type of resources available. I think it is easy to get lost in what the resources are able to accomplish, but on such benchmarking trips, I try to look behind the scenes to see what the principle, process, or value is that has been able to be tried, tested and refined, which should be applicable at any resource level. Such as the value of advanced planning for worship. Finding out the process of how they do what they do. Then, in my experience, by applying those values & principles usually helps take what I am able to do in my current situation to a higher level of quality. A main challenge I think many churches face is not necessarily the lack of resources, but trying to update/change current processes that have been in existence for many years.

Gordon – Great question, I will try to answer that in an upcoming post.

jimmorrow – Thanks!

Kevin – Thanks for your comment. I think that is a great question. I think that Dave has a great response and I would also like to add a few thoughts. I think that in a new church start or in a small congregation there would need to be a balance in visiting other congregations. I think that there would be great value in visiting a congregation that was much larger in size and resources than one’s own congregation. I think that one of purposes there would be to stretch one’s imagination to places which it might not otherwise go. However, I think that another important possibility for a visit would be to visit the next step up or a close peer in size and resources. I think that this would be important to make the vision of something different a little bit more attainable. Did that make sense? What do you think? What else might be helpful?

Dave – Thanks for adding your wisdom to this conversation.

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