We are often asked two questions: Will Readiness 360 help my church? Who else like us has taken it and what were their results? In response to the first question the answer is “yes.” Unless your church has just undergone a major effort and is fatigued by analysis or pleas for participation in something other than (e.g., capital campaign, major visioning/planning process, etc.) or if you are 100% satisfied with your ministry impact, the time is right for Readiness 360.
We have compiled true stories from four churches (the names have been changed) who used the Readiness 360. Perhaps one of those contexts has resonance with your congregation’s current situation.
From Slowly Dying to Growing, Joy-filled Ministry Center
Grace Church took the Readiness 360 as part of an effort to assess how it might revitalize its ministry. Grace is a small-town church on the Great Plains, where almost everyone in town knows everyone else. The church was not surprised to learn they were challenged in each of the four Readiness categories. In fact, the church’s report indicated one of the lowest states of readiness ever measured by our instrument. But, following from R360’s value of building on assets, they recognized that Spiritual Intensity was their strongest area (even though ‘intensity’ was not the word that anyone would call to mind in describing Grace church). The church began a small group with several leaders in which they learned how to talk about their faith, and not simply about the weather, the economy or church business. The first group was so blessed by the process that they sponsored a second group and a third. Within a year, one third of the worship attendees had been through the small group spiritual life experience. People began to utilize their gifts. Several in the church were gifted in theater arts. The church produced a Christmas play and packed the house out with friends and neighbors. Volunteers began to step up in all sorts of areas. The children’s ministry ceased begging desperately for workers, as people found their way into service. Sunday mornings warmed up. A pastor nearing retirement, who had watched the church atrophy during much of his time, was elated to end his service at Grace, with the church on the rebound. The pastoral change served to take Grace to the next level. In two years, Grace went from a slowly dying church without much hope to a growing joy-filled ministry center. As they worked from their strengths, many other areas grew stronger.
From Big Dreams to Focused Alignment and Skill Development
Trinity Church wanted to start a mission center by adopting a closed church building across town in a low-income neighborhood. However, Readiness 360 revealed that their leaders perceived reality very differently on a variety of issues than the church staff. The church was also underdeveloped in its skills of inviting and had a weak track record of bringing outsiders into the fold. In short, they were not ready for the project they were cooking up. So Trinity put the mission center project on hold. It was a good thing. Little did they know that a significant conflict was brewing – a conflict that was quietly forecast by the R360 complete report, so that leaders were not caught off guard. Had they started the new ministry initiative without addressing their lack of missional alignment and their lack of cross-cultural skills, they would have failed miserably. And once they had spent so much money and failed, they might never have been able to garner consensus to try again! Many churches fail at new initiatives (and lose thousands of dollars of ministry investment) each year because they were simply not ready to start. Trinity is now in a strengthening season, as they get healthy internally and work on developing the skills needed for a major community ministry initiative.
From Hesitation to Fruitful Action
Hope Church has been growing for many years. About four years ago, they chose to put significant energy into growing their people deeper, even if it meant slowing down the church’s numerical growth. In the last year, the church has steadily filled up their building for worship and begun to think about planting a second campus a few miles away. But the leaders were concerned that they were not as ready as they could be. They wanted to know if they should spend another couple years focused on trying to disciple more of their folks – or whether they could go ahead with the second campus. Readiness 360 documented the fruit of the discipleship work that they had been doing. Their indexes were extremely high, in the range of churches that can plant new things easily and successfully. In short, Readiness 360 gave Hope Church’s leaders the confidence that their people really were ready to branch out and thrive. This year, Hope planted their second site with a wonderful team of folks, and far exceeded their expectations.
From Mono-Cultural to Multi-Cultural
Good Shepherd Church is located in a large city, with a decidedly young adult participation. They took the Readiness 360 as a way of assessing how they might strengthen their ministry in order to reach beyond being a church of predominantly white members. They discovered their strongest area of the four Readiness categories was Cultural Openness. As they prepared for a major initiative to expand their social bandwidth, they decided to build on this strength – moving into a church wide focus on awareness of white privilege and the ways that white folks can dominate multi-cultural systems. Despite the loss of a key staff member just before launching their new ministry initiative, the ministry survived – and thrived. Good Shepherd is not only a larger church than before, but it is a much more culturally rich church and a church with possibilities of major impact on its community.
Readiness 360 helps churches discover their assets as well as their areas of challenge. We coach churches to build on assets and to utilize strengths in addressing gaps in their overall ministry. By measuring churches against the norms of churches that multiply ministry easily and effectively, we discover the specific areas where a little strengthening yields the biggest net results. By helping churches cultivate the habits and practices of multiplying churches – we are able to see those churches grow ministry, but in such a way, that they are positioned for exponential growth in the near future – expanding ministry in a way that responds powerfully to their community’s needs and not simply to the church’s needs for ministry survival.