On Tuesday, the Atlanta co::Lab kicked off in typical fashion, talking about our need to reimagine vision & steer clear of thinkholes.  In this first session we do an engaging life map exercise where each church presents a “tradeshow” display of where they’ve been and why they’re at the co::Lab. Given the amazing diversity in the room, one unmistakable dynamic really struck me- every church is in transition.

What's true of this unique subset of leaders is true anywhere. If you haven’t named it yet, transition is the new normal for the church. Transition is ubiquitous.

Consider these 8 mini-snapshots of transition from the co::Lab churches. Which one do you relate with?

 2 year-old church running 65: "The first two years we were focused on doing. Now we want to focus on being; we want to start envisioning a new future that’s not running on a hamster wheel." 

150 year-old Presbyterian church running 250: "We have set sail for change and we are too far ahead to go back.  But while we’re off shore, we’re not exactly sure where we are going."

 10 year-old community church running 2500: "We have always been on mission but how we manifest that mission is different at this size; we need clarity how to do that."

 25 year-old Southern Baptist church running 220: The team drew a picture of an old church building with the steeple removed. The steeple was replaced with tree growing from the roof.  The caption said, “We are a re-plant in an existing church.”

 0 year-old church with 2 planters: These guys are building their core team and currently have 5 (including girlfriends and wives). At the top of their life map they wrote the word “UNKNOWN.” How’s that for transition?

 1 year-old church running 30: "We are transitioning from building a stable theological core to focusing outward on cultural engagement."

 13 year-old church running 1200: "The last two years was a season of pruning and navigating the “train wreck” of an attractional-missional collision. We are now sensing a new day of fruitful mission, but not sure what it will look like."

40 year-old church running 1300: "We are above average in too many things, pulling in different directions." The picture of activity without progress was conveyed as a large, new interstate and mix-master, but with no signage. These guys are ready for directional clarity!

Why is transition normative? Our time and place in human history baptizes us with change in many ways:

  •  Massive economic shifts

  • Communication & technology revolution

  • Proliferation of mirco-cultures (increased diversity of age, ethnicity and consumer preferences)

  • Declining influence of the church in the West

  • Increased diversity of emerging church models

And the list goes on. What kind of transition are you navigating? 

On Good Friday it is interesting to note that our Savior's leadership was riddled with transition. The climax of which is death, preceding resurrection, preceding ascension.