An organizational life cycle is a great tool to use to track where an organization currently exists and what lies ahead. This tool could be incredibly useful to ministry leaders to prevent their congregations from slipping into a lethargic existence where change is difficult and is slow to implement.
For churches who are in the infancy or childhood stages, the desire to survive and the passion for the possibilities of the future are enough to keep those involved in these churches to keep moving forward (Finzel, 2013). For those churches who discover they are in the aristocracy or death stages, their options are limited. They can either choose to shut their doors, seek out a larger church interested in absorbing or revitalizing them, or go all in with change which will risk complete alienation of the current congregation in hopes of attracting new people to the church (Finzel, 2013).
For those churches in the adolescence, prime, and mature stages, decision making is critical to insure the reality never becomes an aristocracy. It is these stages that change and innovation are most easily embraced, ideas are flowing like a river, and energy is rallying around initiatives grounded in the vision of the church. These stages thrive on clear innovation, not weak imitation (Vaters, 2016). In these stages innovation can become a part of the church’s culture where everyone is collectively seeking fresh ideas, implementing them courageously, and being embraced when ideas don’t work out (Davila et al., 2012). Once change and innovation is a part of the culture of the church, reinvention is not something feared, it is something embraced.
Reinvention can happen at two stages: prime or maturity (Jones, 2015). In the maturity stage change fights against complacency while change at the prime stage promotes an innovative culture.
Davila, T., Epstein, M. J., & Shelton, R. D. (2013). Making innovation work: how to manage it, measure it, and profit from it (Updated ed). Upper Saddle River, N.J: FT Press.
Finzel, H. (2013). The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make (New edition). David C. Cook.
Jones, T. H. (2015). Recalibrate Your Church: How Your Church Can Reach Its Full Kingdom Impact. Seattle, WA: Recalibrate Group.
Vaters, K. (2016, April 19). Innovative Churches Do This – Imitators Miss It. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2016/april/innovative-churches-do-this-imitators-miss-it.html