The Early Lessons of Adopting “Better Experiments”

“The future of the church is not going to be built on implementing Best Practices, but on our willingness to attempt Better Experiments” – Will Mancini

I love this quote and it has stuck with me for over the past 2 years.  As a matter of fact, I even added “Better Experiments” to a list of CORE VALUES we have in our church organization.  It’s not printed on the wall or stuck on the back of any bulletin – it’s just a core value that guides the WHY WE DO decisions of our organization.  I encourage our staff to step out into new directions and take risks as we move ministry forward.

However, this blog post is about the early lessons of adopting this value as an organization. I’ve spoken many times to our church about the freedom of being able to say “We don’t know” and walking into the unknown future with God leading the way – but it takes a certain mindset to be okay with tripping, falling, or even being launched into something bigger than you could possibly imagine with nothing but faith that God knows what He’s doing. For most folks, the loss of control (good or bad) is the loss of stability in an organization.  If we live by fear and make decisions that limit our risk in life – then we are not really living. 

Today I made the decision (with the help of my staff & leadership team) to close our very first extension campus at Journey.  As of THIS WEEKEND, we are no longer meeting @KadiFit at 5pm on Saturday evenings. There are several reasons that we choose to close it after 9 weeks, but the primary reason was simply not meeting our “first step” goal.  We had high hopes for this incredible venue, and niche part of our community but the first step goal was to see a core group of folks step forward and make this service their own.  Our staff and volunteers could continue to execute the elements of this service (it was actually quite fun),  but without a large enough core to invest in the campus – it was still not going to meet our first step goal.  We didn’t achieve our first step goal and as a result Cornelius @KadiFit is shutting down… and that’s okay.   On to the next campus, and the next mission investment, and the next online opportunity , and the next, and the next, and the next.

Please don’t take my direct statements above as a lack of care or carelessness.  Many, many, many hours of prayer, hope, and faith went into our decision to go for our “first step”.  We desire nothing but success in every step we take, and of every ministry opportunity we take advantage of.  However, we place a HIGHER VALUE on the risk or experiment itself, then we do holding God to the outcome we think we deserve.  Our 9 weeks in Cornelius was highly successful in laying some foundational systems for our future campuses.   We’ve made the decision to hire Zack Deberry to serve part-time as our new Online Campus Pastor as a result of our time in Cornelius and earnestly praying for a potential campus pastor.  Great conversations, and great times of worship were shared in that amazing space – and that will never be viewed as a waste or mistake.  The greatest value of “Better Experiments” lies in the willingness of God’s people to pray BIG prayers for God to do something that we cannot control or take credit for.

The lesson learned from adopting this new value, as it pertains to our Cornelius Campus, boils down to an issue of pride.  No matter how many campuses we have in our future, no matter how amazing God’s story is that He is writing in our lives – our history will always be that we closed our first attempt at multiple campuses after 9 weeks.  I want to be the pastor that is honored to tell that story, and I’m thankful for staff and leaders who are willing to take those steps with me and pray for God to do something greater in our next season then we could possibly ask or imagine.

Another quote that I love and that I find fitting to end this blog post.

“There are new ways to do church that haven’t been discovered yet. May we not drift to a posture of protecting something rather than advancing something.  May we always continue to Risk” – Erwin McManus

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