Methods: Planning consistently happens in three areas, personal, ministry and organization and on three levels, strategic, tactical and operational

Macro and Micro Church Paradigm Shifts

In the article, Understanding Paradigm Shifts As A Church Growth Strategy, we defined a paradigm shift “as a change in thinking and acting that results from a challenge to one’s underlying assumptions.”  And, we noted that not all church paradigm shifts are of equal value or impact. Some are micro-shifts, where the impact is localized and limited, while others are macro-shifts that are more far reaching and impactful.

In this article we look at specific examples of macro and micro paradigm shifts that churches might consider.

Examples of Macro Church Paradigm Shifts

Recent church macro paradigm shifts are well documented as successful churches have challenged traditional ways of doing church and others have followed their lead. Some macro paradigm shift examples include, but are not limited to:

  1. Moving the church campus to a new location
  2. Offering new need meeting programs and ministries
  3. Adding worship services and venues
  4. Going multi-site
  5. Merging with another congregation
  6. Engaging in a church revitalization strategy
  7. Creatively designing and building new facilities
  8. Launching ethnic and niche ministries
  9. Introducing a new emphasis or new outreach, missions, or discipleship strategy
  10. Creating staff positions and structures to launch new initiatives or reach a new demographic
  11. Calling a new pastor possessing a different profile than previous pastors
  12. Installing a new governance structure

Though these macro paradigm shifts frequently result in increased growth and effectiveness, they can be viewed as silver bullets, when in reality they have a shelf life of impact. More importantly, there are a limited number of macro-shifts that are available to a church at any given time, and they typically take an extraordinary amount of time, communication, and resources to implement.

Examples of Micro Church Paradigm Shifts

Micro paradigm shifts are usually not as noticeable as they often occur on the individual or ministry level, are expressed as a value change, or involve a behind the scenes shift in policies, processes, or systems. Nonetheless, new ways of thinking and acting on the individual, ministry, and procedural levels can and does have a church and even kingdom wide impact. Some micro paradigm shift examples include, but are not limited to:

  1. From Leader Training to Leader Pipeline: Here the church shifts from thinking strictly in terms of equipping leaders to creating a steady flow of new leaders through strategies such as apprenticeships, interns, and residency programs.
  2. From 20/80 to 80/20: Here the staff of the church shifts their focus and time to developing the 20% of their budgets, programs, and leaders that provide the biggest impact.
  3. From Problem Solving to Problem Avoidance: Here church leaders shift from focusing on solving problems to creating the conditions that preclude problems from arising in the first place.
  4. From Focusing on Weaknesses to Focusing on Strengths: Here church leaders counterintuitively shift their time and efforts to building upon the church and the staff’s strengths rather than weaknesses.
  5. From Ministry Goals to Global Goals: Here the church staff places priority on each ministry contributing to a few church wide goals over their own ministry goals.
  6. From Conformity to Uniqueness: Here church leaders stop trying to imitate what other churches are doing and begins to allow the church to express its God given uniqueness.
  7. From Leading Change to Being the Change: Here church leaders shift their energies from initiating and leading change to actually embodying, modeling, and being the change before introducing it to the church.
  8. From Doing to Being: Here church leaders come to realize that nurturing the inner spiritual life must be prioritized over and must precede ministry activity if it is to have a measurable kingdom impact.
  9. From Performance Management to Performance Development: Here church leaders shift their focus from trying to manage the performance of staff and volunteers to focusing on providing the necessary resources to further develop them.
  10. From Program Thinking to Process Thinking: Here church staff shift from simply developing more programs to devising new processes and systems to help accomplish the church’s mission and vision.
  11. From Head to Heart Communication: Here the church staff shift from communicating just the facts associated with ministries and programs to sharing stories of life change and transformation that illustrate the church’s mission and vision in action.
  12. From Me Power to We Power: Here the church staff shifts from simply using the power of their office or personality to influence the congregation to using the mission, vision, values, goals, policies, and processes of the church to influence and lead.
  13. From Global to Local Focus: Here the church shifts its time, resources, and opportunities to mobilizing church members to be on mission where they live, learn, work, and play over national and international mission trips.
  14. From More to Less: Here the church shifts from focusing on a complex web of ministry opportunities and objectives to prioritizing resources around 4-5 key priorities each year.
  15. From Mission to Vision Focus: Here the church shifts from only communicating why the church exists to also communicating how the church will uniquely express its mission.

The advantage of micro paradigm shifts is that there are more of them, can happen more frequently, are less time and resource intensive, and can be initiated and implemented by any ministry of the church. Though macro paradigm shifts are ultimately essential to the continued health and growth of a church, consistently stringing together a series of micro paradigm shifts can keep the momentum of growth going between macro paradigm shifts.


Posted on September 4, 2018

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

More About Jim

“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5