The title of this post comes from the title of Pat Keifert and Wes Granberg-Michaelson’s forthcoming book, with the capital C on “Comes” added by me for emphasis. The book isn’t out yet (we hope to have the first copies at Streaming), and so I haven’t read it. But I know the authors, especially Pat, and so think the word “Comes” in the title is signaling an important aspect of what the authors think about change and congregations.
I can imagine other titles on change and churches. For instance, “How you can lead change at your church” Or, “Habits of highly successful churches,” or “Your best church now,” or “A (specified) number of laws that will make your church grow.” Do you see the difference? The alternate titles I’m suggesting here assume that change is the predictable outcome of certain strategies. An expert leader(s) or coach(es) can direct the change your congregation needs. Change is something that originates with you. You make the change happen.
But Pat and Wes’ title suggests that change is a visitor who comes to your church. Change comes in unfamiliar or surprising forms that lie outside of your expertise or strategic plans and knocks on your door. Change is a refugee, an orphan, a widow, a Holy Spirit that crashes your party. I’m spinning a metaphor here to suggest that change often comes apart from your best plans. It shows up as a possibility for those who are paying attention. And I’m convinced of this, it’s hard to pay attention when you’re working a strategic plan.
This is my guess. And I’ll eat pages from their book at Streaming if I’m wrong.
This way of viewing change protects the space necessary to live into the conviction that the living God has a promised and preferred future for the congregation. The church can live responsive to the calling of God discerned in the emerging circumstances of a congregation’s (and its immediate environment) life. Leadership in this case is less about being a visionary genius or change agent, and more about maintaining a communal posture of attentiveness to the God who visits us. God’s change comes to us. Will we find ourselves hospitable?
So, if I’m right, you should come to Streaming and hear more about this, or to watch me eat pages from a book.