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Is your church like a motorcycle or a cement truck?

Is your church like a motorcycle or a cement truck?

blogslide_isyourchurchlikeamotorcycleDuring my commute home from the office today, I found myself stuck behind a cement truck in one lane going a leisurely 30 miles an hour.  The lane next me was also moving at a snail’s pace due to an oversized tractor trailer.  The only people moving ahead were motorcycle drivers who used their vehicle’s size and speed to dart through traffic,  leaving the rest of us miles behind. The agility of the motorcycles intrigued me and I began to wonder about the congregations I coach. “Which ones are more like motorcycles (nimble, adaptive and opportunity-oriented) and which ones are more like cement trucks (slow, plodding and carrying lots of extra baggage).?”

The ones I identified as “motorcycles” had these similar traits:

  1. They have an external focus, seeing opportunities emerging within their community.
  2. The make quick decisions, having removed unnecessary bottlenecks and eliminated the need for multiple approvals.
  3. They are flexible, willing to pilot new programs and ministries while simultaneously jettisoning programs and practices that aren’t working.
  4. They understand that risk and failure goes hand in hand with innovation. They learn how to do autopsies without blame and learn from their mistakes.
  5. They give themselves permission to say “no.” They do less but go deeper and avoid stretching their dreams beyond their available resources and leadership capacities.
  6. They see “small” as a strength rather than a weakness to overcome. They have a quicker, lighter footprint and can turn on a dime, and don’t use their lack of size as an excuse for not doing effective ministry.
  7. They combine face-to-face relational experiences with online interactions. They embrace the “high touch, high tech” approach to relationship-building.
  8.  They are clear about what they want FOR people – not just from people.  They want people to experience a life-shaping faith, better relationships, healthier families,  find joy in serving others and experience being generous with their time, talents and treasures.


To reach a changing culture, the church needs to change much more quickly than in the past. Consider my recent driving experience and find ways to make your congregation look more like a motorcycle than a cement truck.




Some Toughts (3)

  1. Kelly Preboski
    added on 28 Oct, 2014

    Really enjoyed reading this. Will continue to ponder as I seek to create authentic experiences for my congregation. Definitely a blog I will have to revisit several times. Really loved number 8 … what do I want FOR people, not just FROM people.

  2. added on 28 Oct, 2014

    What a great analogy Jim. I feel like my congregation is at the cement truck and motorcycle sales lot at the moment. We are ready to buy a motorcycle but our interim process feels like we are are test driving a cement truck. I do feel that we categorically are “bikers” but we do need to work on number 7.

  3. added on 28 Oct, 2014

    Sometimes, I think that on a day to day basis, my church is choosing which vehicle to drive. “Hmm… I think we should drive the cement truck today. It can carry a lot as we grow.” Other days, it seems like we are saying “Better take the motorcycle today so we can get to where we’re going faster.” Even within the church, we have most of our teams that are on motorcycles but two of our ministry teams are driving those slow, cumbersome cement trucks. My struggles is with #8… Post Cert. School, the focus for me has been to start with the “Why?” I want to lead effective faith formation that works FOR people, not expecting things FROM people. This blog will definitely be brought up at my Growth Team meetings and my Faith Formation Team meetings.

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