The church of the future will generate opportunities for their up and coming preachers using alternative liturgies and innovative service orders. New preachers need new opportunities, but the problem is that there are few opportunities for them to try out their material in front of a live audience. And no matter how many times you practice in front of your small group or Sunday School class, there’s something very, very different about delivering a sermon to a packed auditorium.
For example, our church recently taught through the book of Titus using a Pecha Kucha format. Pecha Kucha is a Japanese presentation style where orators deliver their material accompanied by 20slides, each displayed for 20seconds. The total 6:40presentation is a novel, interesting method for presenting information. We brought in many different speakers throughout this series.
But that’s just one means of training and producing new voices. When training a group of doctoral students, Len Sweet and I hosted a preaching conference where the only audience was virtual apart from the presenters. We broke our students into blocks of 4presenters, and then had them each deliver material in 12min, 3min, 6min, and 18min chunks. The students received real-time feedback from a panel of adjudicators (much like they would at a band festival), as well as written feedback from their peers. The experience was intense, but overall the feedback was very positive and we saw tremendous improvement among our students.
The church of the future will continue to develop new leaders, new preacher, and new innovators. Rather than waiting for the next voices to spring up naturally, the church of the future will grow them, investing resources and energy into the formation of the next generation.
Once, our church had three copastors functioning equally in a shared leadership model. In contrast to other shared leadership models, ours was not a “first among equals” scenario where one of us played Alpha and the others came with. No—ours was a marriage, and the parents made every decision together. Tragically, one of my copastors, Randy, passed away several years into our tenure. The other, John, remained with me for almost a decade afterward. He was an exceptional musician, designer, and community organizer. When he left, I thought so would most of our church. He was the sizzle to our steak and we didn’t have anyone in the wings ready to replace him.
Because we had time to get our house in order, I worked diligently with our remaining staff and elders to put a transition plan in place that identified John’s greatest contributions to our church and strategically divvied those up, assigning new ventures and forward progress to small teams of volunteers and part-time staff. No one could do what John could do, as well as John could do it, by themselves; so we press ganged nearly seventy-five people into a year-long change initiative designed to not only compensate for John’s loss but also continue to move our church forward.
That process helped me identify that natural leaders and innovators who help drive our church today. Our design team was born out of that process and several of our existing full-time staff took on larger roles with increased responsibilities.