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Avoiding Ground Hog Day

Avoiding Ground Hog Day

blogslide_avoidinggroundhogdayIn the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray experiences the same day over and over. I see this same phenomena occur in congregations when I see the same programs offered year after year with little attention paid to their impact. I see Ground Hog Day occur when meetings continue to be run in ways that are described in Patrick Lencioni’s book, Death By Meeting. I see Ground Hog Day occur when leaders focus on maintenance rather than mission,  gaining members rather than building disciples, and bringing back the good old days rather than helping usher the congregation into God’s preferred future.

To avoid Ground Hog scenarios in the future, leaders need to:

  1. Put on their designer hats and begin creating programs, worship services, meetings and experiences that engage people’s senses around things that matter most – connection, community and making a contribution.
  2. Let go of activities and traditions that no longer serve people and to be willing to pilot new programs and practices that lead to spiritual growth and vitality.
  3. Ask better questions that frame our conversations around what it means to be a Christ follower in the 21st century.
  4. Lead by proposal, turning immobilizing dialogue into tangible ways for moving forward faster.
  5. No longer accept Ground Hog activities as being normal but rather view these activities and practices as a cancer that’s diminishing the church’s impact on society.

Will Rogers reminds us that “When you find yourself in a hole, the first step is to quit digging.”  As people of hope, we have the capacity to chart a new course beginning today, starting with ourselves.  Our choices today will determine what our churches become tomorrow.


Some Toughts (6)

  1. Kelly Elsebough
    added on 17 Aug, 2013

    Hi Jim! I love this article! I have to say that we are in such an exciting time right now at Our Savior Lutheran Church! Our new Music Minister, Ryan Hostler is implementing new ideas into our worship services, the music is just beautiful, he brings a new energy with him that is contageous! All of our staff and volunteers really love what they are doing and that is very evident. There is a sense of God’s Holy Spirit at work here and I think we are all aware that we need to be open to where His spirit is leading us. I know that is why it is so exciting to be here at Our Savior’s at this time!
    Kelly Elsebough, Director of Youth Ministry

  2. added on 19 Aug, 2013

    I”m so delighted to hear about the wonderful things that are happening at OSLC. Look forward to seeing it in person this coming year.

  3. added on 28 Aug, 2013
  4. added on 6 Sep, 2013

    I really like the idea that focusing on “gaining members rather than building disciples” is digging deeper into a hole. Yes!

  5. Jeremy Hall
    added on 10 Sep, 2013

    awesome article!
    im sharing this with my ministry buddies!
    so many churches get so scared to break these groundhog day type traditions, and even cling to them like a safety blanket or falsely label them as “stability”…

    it is so important that when we encourage churches in new directions we also train and prepare them for the fallout that comes with any change, so many pastors and church leaders are lacking in the areas of conflict(and change) management skills!

    • Jeramy
      added on 5 Mar, 2014

      I agree. We had a group conversation recently about change and how there is always some grief/loss associated with change, even when that change is for the positive. Letting go of the known is scary, even if what is coming next is assumed to be good. As leaders we need to in a way act as grief processors for the people that are affected by the change.

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