How to Embrace Bold Moves in 2024 (Part 3)
So far in our series on How to Embrace Bold Moves in 2024 we’ve made the case for WHY every church needs at least 1-2 bold moves they’re chasing in 2024 and explained HOW to clarify what those bold moves should be.
Now, at this point in our series, I really wanted to highlight some real life stories of bold moves from churches because:
- I just love to brag on the amazing churches we’re able to serve and connect with.
- I know this idea of ‘bold moves’ can feel kind of vague and intimidating, and it’s hard to know where to start.
So I’m not saying you should copy these exact bold moves in your own church… but hopefully hearing these stories will help you learn from others and point you in the direction that God might be calling you. 🙂
EXAMPLES OF REAL BOLD MOVES
In this episode, Amy and I will give some examples of real bold moves that churches have taken on, whether they’ve succeeded or failed, and explain what we can learn from these stories.
- Four examples of real-life bold moves
- Why some bold moves succeed and others fail
- Three common mistakes that cause bold moves to fail
At this free 1-hour webinar, the Unstuck team and guests Derwin Gray, Jonathan Smith, and Rick Atchley will help you clarify the next bold move God may be calling your church to make—and unpack the next steps to get there.
This Episode Is Sponsored by Planning Center:
A lot of people in ministry feel overwhelmed by the amount of details they need to organize, volunteers they need to schedule, or events they need to plan to cultivate community. But Planning Center, an all-in-one church management system, can help you organize your ministries and give your congregants a place to engage. Anyone can sign up for the free plan of any product to try it out today at planningcenter.com!
Other Episodes in This Series
- Why Your Church Needs to Embrace Bold Moves – Episode 320
- How to Clarify Your Next Bold Moves – Episode 321
- How to Implement Your Bold Moves – Episode 323
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Welcome to The Unstuck Church Podcast, where each week we are exploring what it means to be an unstuck church. Maybe you’ve heard something like this in your church, “But we’ve tried that before,” or “That’ll never work here.” It seems that in some churches bold moves are met with a lot of success, while in others they seem to fall flat. On this week’s podcast, Tony and Amy continue our series on how to define the next bold move for your church with a conversation on why some bold moves succeed while others fail. If you’re new to The Unstuck Church Podcast, before you listen, go to theunstuckgroup.com/podcast and subscribe to get the episode show notes each week in your email. When you do, you’ll get resources to support each week’s episode, our Leader Conversation Guide and access to our podcast resource archive. Again, that’s theunstuckgroup.com/podcast to subscribe. Now, before we get into this week’s conversation, here’s Tony.
A lot of people in ministry feel overwhelmed by the amount of details they need to organize, volunteers they need to schedule or events they need to plan to cultivate community. But Planning Center, an all-in-one church management system, can help you organize your ministries and give your congregants a place to engage. Anyone can sign up for the free plan of any product to try out today at planningcenter.com.
Well, welcome back to our podcast, and, Tony, it’s good to see you. I got back in the wee hours of the night last night from Ohio where it snowed just a little, and it felt right at home. It’s kind of like Minnesota. Where have you been these days?
Well, I’m a little bit jealous that you got to be in Ohio and that you got to experience some snow. It hasn’t snowed where I am yet. But you never know. But I was jealous.
Are you jealous of that?
I know. I was just in Newark, Delaware, and I’m saying it correctly. It’s not Newark, New Jersey.
It’s New-ark, Delaware. And we’ve been working with a great church there—The Journey Church—over the last year or so. And it, it was fun to be there ’cause they just recently opened up their third location and my goodness.
Oh, how exciting.
The team there is just doing phenomenal.
I told them we’ve been to, I know you have, too, a lot of new locations that are kind of set up, tear down. It’s a portable situation in a school. And I told them I thought they have done the best job of any school location that I’ve seen for a church.
So if you’re considering doing portable church in a school, you should, go check out what The Journey is doing in Newark, Delaware. It’s an excuse to, it’s an excuse to visit Delaware if you’ve never been there. So it’s not a bad place. You, you’ll enjoy it.
Which if you reach way, way back into your elementary school years, they were the very first state in the United States.
There you go. There you go.
Did you know that? And I don’t think they have taxes on just general goods that you buy ’cause people kept telling me to buy a TV while I was there to avoid the taxes. I thought, that’s gonna be hard to get in my carry on so.
Yes, that would be.
Well, Tony, so far in our series, we’ve explained kind of the why we believe every church needs to have at least one or two bold moves to pursue in 2024, which is right around the corner. And we explained how to clarify what those bold moves should be. And now, it looks like we’re getting even more practical today, Tony, in giving some examples of real bold moves that churches have taken. Whether they’ve succeeded or failed, but they’ve taken them and what we’ve learned from those stories. So, it’ll be a fun episode.
That’s, yeah, you’re absolutely right, Amy. And I really wanted to highlight some of these real-life stories from real churches, the bold moves that they’re making for two reasons. Number one, I’ve, you know me, I just love to brag on the amazing churches that we’re able to serve and connect with at The Unstuck Group. But, secondly, I wanted to share these stories because I know this idea of bold moves can feel kind of vague and, and maybe a little bit intimidating, and it’s hard to know where to start. So, I’m not saying that you should copy exactly these bold moves that we’re gonna talk about today in your own church, but, hopefully, hearing these stories will help you learn from others and point you in the direction that God might be calling your church to.
Yeah. I always find these stories that you share, we share, I think they’re just inspiring. And one idea leads to maybe a new idea or confirms something that our listeners have been listening to. So let’s dive right in.
So, Tony, what are some of the most common examples of bold moves that you’ve seen churches make that have led to their health and their growth?
Yeah. Well, why don’t we begin with this one? We’ve worked with several churches that have had this bold move of trying to become either multi-generational or multi-ethnic churches or both. And the heart behind this I just love; they wanna become a congregation that reflects the people in the mission field, who the church is hoping to reach. And so, this is one of those areas where, goodness, if we can help churches engage with people in their mission fields and be more effective doing that, I wanna be a part of helping churches accomplish that bold move as well.
Now, multi-generational and multi-ethnic, just so you know, this looks different for different churches because the communities where churches are located are very different, and they’re trying to reach very different people. So, just as an example, Amy, you’ll recall several months ago, we were both at a great church in The Villages, Florida, which is primarily a retirement community. And so, it would be very hard for this church in The Villages to be a multi-generational church because it’s all retirees.
And it’s not like a neighborhood of retirees.
It is like a big city of retirees. So.
So, all of this to say, if you’re considering this particular bold move, it’s not to maybe match what other churches are doing when it comes to being multi-ethnic or multi-generational. It’s more about being the church that reflects the community that you’re trying to reach. And my goodness, I think the best example that we can share from our past experiences in the churches that we’ve served is Transformation Church near Charlotte. We’ve talked about pastors Derwin and Vicki Gray and their church. It’s a great ministry, but it, it really began, pastor Derwin, Derwin Gray talks about this; it’s kind of his, a lot, his passion and call to ministry is reflected in his church’s mission, and it’s this: Transformation Church is to be a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community that loves God completely so loves God (upward), loves ourselves correctly (inward) and our neighbors compassionately (outward). So, they talk about frequently this focus on being upward, inward and outward. And if you want some practical tools, strategies for becoming a multi-ethnic church, you know, you really ought to just start with Derwin’s book, which is titled Building a Multi-Ethnic Church.
But it really starts to give you some handles on how you can approach that as a ministry to, again, help your church, your congregation, reflect the community where your church is located. When it comes to being a multi-generational church, maybe the best example I could come up with is Hope Church, which is a, it’s a great Presbyterian church in Richmond, Richmond, Virginia. We’ve worked with a lot of Presbyterian churches through the years. I love the ministry of Hope Church. And, specifically, it was their pastor, pastor David Dwight. He was the first person that I heard talk about multi-generational ministry this way. And he’s, he, he articulated it this way. He said, “I want Hope to be a multi-generational church that’s focused on reaching the next generation, our kids and our grandkids.” And, Amy, you can see the way that he has cast vision to his church around being multi-generational; it’s holding on to this focus of we need representation of all the, all the generations in our ministry, particularly because it’s gonna be the older generations, those that have been a part of the faith for years, for decades, that we need to be discipling, mentoring, pouring into the next generation. But, he also knows that if the church isn’t constantly focused on reaching the next generation—young adults, their kids, their grandkids—the church over time is going to grow older. It’s going to grow very mature, and eventually, we’re gonna start losing generations in the church. And we will not be able to be truly a multi-generational church. But both of these churches, Transformation Church and Hope Church, are engaging some bold moves around generations and ethnicities. But don’t miss this. It’s not about quotas or making a political statement or anything like that. Again, it’s about fulfilling the great commission in the mission fields where God has placed these two churches.
Yeah. Those are great examples of bold moves. And, you know, we’ve also talked about the bold move, Tony, of going multisite. Do you have an example or two of churches that are pursuing that specific vision for the future?
Well, Amy, again, you know this, and through the years, The Unstuck Group has served now more than a hundred multisite churches. So, there are a lot of churches that I could point to, but three, just within recent months, just to share a little bit of their stories in the bold moves that they’re considering. Number one, I just referenced The Journey in Newark, Delaware. They just opened their third location. And so this has been one of those bold moves that they’ve been leveraging to rally their church, not just with their prayer, not just with their time, because there are a lot of new volunteers and volunteer leaders that are serving at the church in order to launch their second and third location. But it’s also been a way to, I just, to be honest, to, to rally resources financially and otherwise so that the church can expand its mission throughout their region. Another example, I was just worth, with a great church out in Lubbock, Texas: Redeemer Church. They’re experiencing significant growth. They, they have maximized every square inch, I think, of their current location. And as a result of that, they were faced with the question, are we gonna just, you know, try to acquire more land around our current property so that we can expand in our current location? Are we gonna relocate us to some place where we can have expanded facilities? Or are we going to step into multisite? And, you know, I’m really grateful that they decided that last option, stepping into multisite was the approach that they were going to take because what we’ve seen, Amy, in the past is it’s really almost the cheapest and the fastest way to reach more people as far as an expansion strategy for churches, as opposed to expanding or relocating. And so, they’re about ready to step into that. And our team has been serving them these last, number one, number of months to prepare for launching that second location. They’re hoping to do that about 18 months from now.
And then, lastly, I’ve talked a little bit in recent months about our engagement with Victory Family Church in Norman, Oklahoma. They’re currently in four locations. And what I love about their story is they’re working so hard because of this urgency they have to share the good news with more people and help more people cross the line of faith. And so, not only are they in four locations, but at their original location, they’re, they’re, they’re doing six different services now on Sunday morning. And because of that, I mean, the team is just all in, certainly Adam, their senior pastor is all in. But because of that commitment to their mission, they’re seeing a lot of people cross the line of faith. But here’s the deal. We just need to remember that multisite as a bold move is not a strategy to turn around a plateaued or declining church. It’s what healthy, thriving churches do when they want to continue reaching people for Jesus. But they’re almost forced to multiply in new locations. So, as an example, the journey in Newark, Delaware, they were at five services at their original location. Their, their original location is at capacity. But they started launching multisite a few years ago because they wanted to continue to reach more people for Jesus. Here’s the crazy thing, Amy, again, this is a reflection. This is already a healthy, thriving church. Before they moved into multisite, they launched their new locations, sent out volunteers, leaders from their church to launch those new locations. And almost immediately, all of the seats that were vacated from people going to the new locations were filled up again. And because of that, they’re in the process of having to find another broadcast location as well. So the church is experiencing growth. I just talked about Victory Family Church. They’re in six services at their original location. Same thing: They’re still growing at their original location, even though they’ve opened three locations in recent years. So why do churches choose to go multisite if it really doesn’t help free up seats for more people to attend? It’s because it helps these churches reach more people for Jesus in the broader region of their mission field. So, you’re gonna notice a theme here. The right bold moves for your church will help your church reach more people for Jesus.
So, going in another direction here, Tony, what are some examples of churches who have successfully made the bold move to improve or enhance their facilities?
Yeah, again, lots of good examples here. And this is, the great thing is even as we were going through the pandemic and there was a lot of uncertainty about how churches would, what they would look like on the other side of the pandemic. There were several churches that we worked with that recognized facilities were going to be a hindrance to their mission once we reopened if they didn’t continue to work through those. And so, a couple of examples, specifically, Cowboy Junction Church, my good friends out in Hobbes, New Mexico, they just moved into their brand new building two years ago. Again, this is kind of right as we were and the church was coming out of the pandemic; before that, they were meeting in a, I don’t know the best way to describe it, Amy, is almost a modified barn. So it was fitting, you know, they’re called Cowboy Junction, but they were in a modified barn for adult services. And the kids’ ministry, they were using portable classrooms. So, in the two years since they’ve opened really what their first real building, they’ve, they’ve grown from 630 people to 850 people in those two years.
But, more importantly, 260 people have crossed line of faith and said yes to Jesus, and then, for the icing on the cake here, in two years, the church has paid off almost two-thirds of the cost of the new facility.
So that’s a church that caught the vision. . .
For reaching their friends and family for Jesus and significant bold move for their ministry. And to see immediately that many lives that have been impacted is just pretty fun. Another church that comes to mind is the Hills Church in Fort Worth, Texas. They’re, they are a multisite church in three locations. And I mean, it’s another bold move. They’re in the process of opening a fourth location in Dallas, and I love their vision. They’re, they’re asking God for nations and generations to meet and follow Jesus. And they’re making several bold moves, but a part of that is to renovate their current kid space. And I don’t know how to describe this, but before they started the renovation project, I got a personal tour through their old children’s ministry space. And it’s very possible, Amy, they, they may be the biggest church I’ve ever served with the least desirable children’s ministry facility that I’ve ever seen.
My, my, my friends at the Hills Church will appreciate that. But, needless to say it, the, the children’s ministry area needed attention. But here’s what I love. They, they chose to focus initially on investing in new locations to reach people in their region rather than doing renovations of their children’s ministry. And I absolutely agree with that decision; it was the right decision to make. But they also realize that they can’t continue to be a multi-generational church if they don’t provide appropriate ministry environments for all ages, including children. And, really when it comes right down to it, it’s, it’s about great ministry to kids. But, more importantly, it’s about reaching young parents because it’s the parents that are making the decision: Is this gonna be our church or not? But, once again, in both of these examples from Cowboy Junction and from the Hills Church, these are, these are both bold moves that are really not about new buildings. In both cases, it’s all about the people that these churches are, are hoping to reach for Jesus. And my perspective on church buildings, Amy, really shifted when I visited Burkina Faso about 15 years ago. If you’re not familiar, this is a country in West Africa. It’s the second poorest country in the world.
And we were out in some very remote villages. And primarily we were there to help the locals establish a water source and, and in these villages so that they could have fresh drinking water. And we were partnering with ministries as well that were planting churches in these same villages. And here’s what’s fascinating, and this just struck me. Even in these remote African villages, there was often a building where the church gathered. The buildings look very different than our buildings for worship here in the U.S.
The buildings in Burkina Faso were usually made of block walls that were made from mud. They had a, that thatch roof on them. The floors were still dirt floors. They had very primitive benches for seating in these buildings. But the building is where the church gathered to hear God’s word, to worship together. And it’s part of what the church needed to thrive in those remote villages. And, you know, that building design was right for their mission field. It wouldn’t be right for our mission field. But it just gave me a, a fresh perspective of the importance of the church gathered in a building. And so, I’ve seen several instances, on the other hand, where buildings were really creating barriers to reaching people for Jesus. I’ve seen examples of poor space design. I’ve seen churches that really kind of neglected their facilities.
Or I’ve seen where really it’s just a poor fit for the culture of the mission field that the church is trying to reach. But because of that, it’s possible that a new or renovated facility may actually be the bold move that your church needs to consider because buildings are about people. It’s about, it’s about helping people cross the line of faith.
Mm-Hmm. Well, there’s probably many more examples, Tony, of bold moves that we’ve seen churches pursue over the years. But let’s just hit one more kind of category of bold moves, and that’s examples of churches who have successfully had a bold move to address core needs in their community. And we hear about a lot of those. Can you share a few?
Yeah. This one is, is very easy because there are so many fantastic examples we could share here. But, first of all, let me just give out a, a shout out to my church: North Point Ministries. And the more than 100 churches that have, they’ve just wrapped up their Be Rich initiative for 2023. And for those who may not be familiar with Be Rich, it’s a movement of generosity that gets its foundation from First Timothy, chapter six, verse 18. That verse shares this, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share.” So Be Rich includes the components of giving generously to partner organizations that are addressing needs in our communities and, more specifically, the needs in people’s lives. It’s also about serving with partner organizations rather than trying to recreate ministries of the church to address those needs.
Because we don’t need to recreate the wheel. There are already great ministries serving needs, and it’s about loving people in the community. So we give. We serve, and we love. And this is just fun to celebrate this. Over the last 15, over the last 15 years, these 113 churches have served 557,000 hours, and they’ve given more than $80 million to nonprofits in their communities and around the world.
Another good example and we were just engaging with Jonathan today from onechurch.to. Jonathan’s the lead pastor. The church in Toronto. And they have been engaging several bold moves in recent years. But one of those bold moves was to launch a Love Army, is what they call it. Because they’re striving as a church to be, I love this, unignorably good to the city of Toronto.
I love that.
And they wanted to demonstrate that by doing 100,000 acts of goodness over five years. But there’s a problem, Amy.
They set the goal at a hundred thousand acts of goodness. And rather than accomplishing that in five years, they actually accomplish that goal in half the time in only two and a half years.
So I told Jonathan they just aimed way too low there and. So, but again, I mean, why do churches engage bold moves to impact their communities and to address specific needs in people’s lives? Well, first it’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus. I mean, this, we’re just called to do this. But each, each one of these churches is also trying to help normal people think differently about church, so that we have a greater opportunity to share the good news and help people meet and follow Jesus. And so the bottom line on all of these bold moves that we’ve talked about today, it’s all about people. It’s all about loving God and loving others. It’s all about God, give our God-given mission to make disciples of all the nations.
What I love about onechurch.to, what they did was, we all know we’re supposed to do good things, right, as Christ followers. But when you have that goal and you know that your actions are tallying up to those hundred thousand acts of goodness? I bet it just called their people out more specifically. And they were so much more intentional about, and that’s, I guess that’s the beauty of a bold move and a vision. We can do so much more together.
That’s absolutely right. Yeah.
All right. Well, on the flip side, Tony, I would just be curious, what are some of the ways that you’ve seen bold moves go wrong? And then what caused them to fail? When, and don’t name names here. Let’s not brag on any churches here.
But I think it’s important, you know, that all of us can learn from maybe some of those missteps.
Yeah. Well, let’s begin here. I mean, bold moves by their definition are necessarily risky in a way. And risk can be good, or it can be bad. It’s good when it’s tethered to your mission as a church. You know, why, why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?
And you have a clear foundation for your church, but it’s bad when those things are not in place. In other words, sometimes bold moves fail because the why is wrong. The motivation is wrong. So we’re pursuing bold moves, but it’s not connected to why we’re engaging our mission. So, from the examples that I shared above, it might look like this: If we’re launching a new multisite location because the current congregation isn’t willing to make the necessary ministry changes to reach new people. And so we think, “Well, we can’t make those changes here, so we’ll start a new location where we can engage ministry differently.” That again, is we’re, we’re just making change, but it’s not really connected to the why we do what we do as a mission. Or, again, referring to one of the other examples I shared earlier, if we’re just renovating a building because the facility is tired but then prioritizing the improvements to serve the people who are financially supporting the renovation rather than prioritizing the people that the church is trying to reach. Again, that’s an example of taking risk, but it’s the wrong motivation. Or here’s another one linking back to what we just talked about. If we’re serving people in the community to make us, the people in the church feel good about ourselves, rather than actually helping people outside the church and outside the faith, helping people overcome challenges that they’re facing and helping them take their next steps towards Christ. If we’re not doing that, if that’s not the motivation, again, it might be a bold move, and it could be very risky. But it’s the wrong motivation that’s driving that. So we just need to make sure that the why is correct before we move forward with a bold move.
Mm-Hmm. Those are great examples. I’m wondering, Tony, are there any other like common themes or mistakes that you’ve seen churches make, you know, when it comes to their bold moves that our listeners should be wary of?
Yeah, there are. Let, let me just finish, though, by highlighting these two big mistakes that we see. The first one is this. It’s when a church tries to take on too many bold moves at the same time.
So you’ve heard me say in the series, Amy, I think every church needs to be embracing at least one bold move. But when churches try to take on too many, they try to prioritize too many good initiatives. Every, it’s, it’s as if every ministry gets their own bold move in the church.
They’re, they’re, you know, they’re hoping with multiple bold moves that every person in the church will somehow identify an initiative that they can support financially. That approach, unfortunately, never works. And it makes sense when, when our resources, our, our time, our attention get, get pulled in too many different directions. . .
It’s really impossible for us to move any of those bold moves forward. So that’s one big mistake. Second might be when the church doesn’t make the bold moves actionable. In other words, there’s not an urgency to get going on whatever it is that they’re hoping to accomplish. So they may have a clear vision, a clear, bold move, and they may do well in the vision cast itself. They may even pray for the bold move to actually become reality. But if you don’t have a plan of who’s going to do what by when, that vision you have, that may be you’re hoping will, will happen within the next five or 10 years, that vision’s never going to become reality. And so, we just need to make sure whatever the bold move is that we’re pursuing, that it’s actionable. And we’re going to take steps towards that becoming reality beginning today. So, as we mentioned in one of the earlier episodes in the series, if it’s not bold enough that you sense the urgency to take action, starting today, you don’t really have a bold move. At best, you have a bold hope for the future, but it’s certainly not a bold move.
Mm-hmm. Well, Tony, next week we’re gonna wrap up our series with a conversation on how to create an action plan around your bold moves and how to structure your team around them. But as we wrap up today’s conversation, do you have any final thoughts?
Well, if you are listening to this podcast on the day it airs, I just wanna remind you that it’s not too late to join us tomorrow for our free webinar. It’s on Four Bold Moves for Churches and How to Make Them Happen. And we’re gonna be joined by our special guests Derwin Gray, Rick Achley and Jonathan Smith to hear how God’s used bold moves to shape their congregations and their leadership journeys. And I believe that you’ll walk away encouraged to clarify your church’s next bold move and empowered with the systems and strategies to actually accomplish it. So, if you’d like to join us tomorrow for this live event, you can register now at the link in your show notes.
Well, thanks for joining us on this week’s podcast. Like Tony mentioned, if you’d like to learn more or register for our upcoming free webinar on November 16th, called Four Bold Moves for Churches and How to Make Them, you can do that using the link in your show notes. And if you don’t yet have the show notes, just go to theunstuckgroup.com/podcast to subscribe. Next week, we’re back with another brand new episode. Until then, have a great week.