Continuing the series I launched last week on trends in the church, I linked up with Dave Travis recently to get his thoughts. Dave is the Managing Director of the Leadership Network, an organization dedicated to accelerating the impact of leaders. Here’s what Dave had to share.
First of all, we use the term innovation as an idea or practice that leads to higher performance. The second caveat is that we tend to work with larger churches, so it is hard to say that this is impacting all churches right now, but eventually, it will.
One innovation larger churches are really getting serious about is adoption, merger, and takeover. They’re using “aquimergertakeover” of smaller congregations and buildings for new sites for the megachurch as a way of reinvigorating ministry in a place. The “planting” or multi-site churches are actively seeking these sites as takeover targets. This has been going on for 20 years, but now, with the rise of multi-site, churches are starting to do this intentionally as a strategy.
Secondly, there’s an explosion of internships, residencies, and “schools” that are structured and more formal but not quite the “academic” model. Almost everyone is hiring a leader and putting in place a program. This is also something that is a throwback to an earlier era, but now these programs are going to scale. They realize it is almost just as easy to do 20 as it is to do two.
As these innovations take hold, it could give new life to small churches in areas where a large church wants to plant a site or church. It could capture the billions of dollars in property, which, if done well, could be rehabbed and restored to kingdom use.
At least in the short run (say within 15 years), internships and residencies will also have an impact. They will replace the academic track as the key thing that other churches look for when they go to replace ministry staff. The question will not be “where did they go to school?” but rather “where did they train?”
You can follow more of Dave’s thoughts and writings on his Web site. I also encourage you to check out the resources, many of which are free, available from the Leadership Network.