10 paradigm shifts

8 07 2008

“All over our nation there is a quiet movement of the Spirit of God that is causing believers to reexamine how they ‘do church.’  Churches around our nation are throwing out the old measures of success. It’s no longer merely about size, seeker sensitivity, spiritual gifts, church health, nor the number of small groups. It’s about making a significant and sustainable difference in the lives of people around us – in our communities and in our cities.

“There is a growing awareness that we cannot continue to do the same old things and expect a different result.  If we want to be the salt and light we as the church were created to be, we have to do something different…we have to be something different!  Community transformation is not found in programs, strategies, campaigns or tactics.  For most of us, it will take nothing less than a shift of seismic proportions in what the church is to be in the 3rd millennium.  A paradigm is a model consisting of shared assumptions regarding what works or what is true. A paradigm shift is that ‘aha!’ moment when one sees things in such a new light that one can never go back to the old ways again.  Each paradigm shift takes us from a model of thinking that we must discard to a new model that we must embrace.  A new paradigm is the new wineskins that will be needed to hold the new assumptions about what is true.  To maximize our impact on our communities – urban, suburban or rural, we need changes in at least ten of our paradigms of how we currently view church. “

The above is a portion of the introduction to a research project undertaken by Eric Swanson and published by Leadership Network in 2002.   Without ever using the word “missional,” Eric defines the 10 shifts his research shows the church needs to make:

1.  From building walls to building bridges.
2.  From measuring attendance to measuring impact.
3.  From encouraging the saints to attend the service to equipping the saints for works of service.
4.  From “serve us” to service – from inward to outward focus.
5.  From duplication of human services and ministries to partnering with existing services and ministries.
6.  From fellowship to functional unity.
7.  From condemning the city to blessing the city and praying for it.
8.  From being a minister in a congregation to being a minister in a parish.
9.  From anecdote and speculation to valid information.
10. From teacher to learner.

The report is linked here: Ten Paradigm Shifts Toward Community Transformation. Although I have not read his book, The Externally Focused Church (©2004), one reviewer may have summed it up well: “The Externally Focused Church is best book I have read that gives biblical, historical and inspirational examples for impacting the community with the good news coupled with the good deeds of Jesus Christ.”

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2 responses

9 07 2008
sbowen1

Something is happening all around the world…building bridges, breaking down barriers, re-defining church to our communities through serving is on the increase and flowing. It’s encouraging. Eric is right on concerning shifts.

see a snipet http://stevebowen.blogspot.com/2008/06/impactlove-in-action.html

10 07 2008
Blake

Great post and great resource. It’s a lot to chew on isn’t it? Any one of these shifts would be HUGE in most churches.

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