Brian Sanders in his 2017 Exponential Resource online publication suggests the networked and growing church must shift its focuses because of our rapidly changing social culture. His observations are based upon ten years of church planting experience and systematic observations of growth. Specifically, he says that the church must shift from static to adaptive systems, from boastful to modest superstructures, from consumer to creator focused, from an ambiguous to simple definition of church, from a few to ALL called into mission, from control to servanthood in leadership, and from scarcity to abundance in mission.
The static to adaptive systems shift refers to creating an environment of experimentation, growth, learning, change, and adaptive operations. Most growing businesses today are focused on the same adjustments to the past way of doing things.
The boastful to modest superstructures shift refers to creating a relational community of smaller autonomous expressions of church. The larger gatherings cost much in people’s time and money to maintain. ISI’s M28 strategy of discipleship multiplication is perfectly suited for this.
The consumer to creator shift refers to how the church after WWII produced large churches which in the 1990s became more consumer-driven. Sanders says, “Now, the latest ‘creator economy’ (with all its threats and pitfalls) has built in the chance to tell the story of God by how we organize, mobilize, and release people. It is a way we create value in our lives and join with God in his work around us. ISI’s focus on next-level leadership development this year is an example.
The simple definition of “church shift” refers to a church form where smaller, more basic expressions of church are validated with full honor. What is the absolute minimum for a group to be called “church”? When international students return home, many times the only church they can experience is very small—possibly just an M28 group they started!
The few to ALL called into mission shift refers to a common culture and language that presumes all believers are called into mission. Isn’t that simply what the scriptures teach? All returning international students who know Christ personally are called to be examples of Christ to their culture and profession.
The control to servanthood in leadership shift refers to a leadership culture that is intolerant of megalomania and only promotes servants to positions of leadership. ISI’s Vision Leadership Conference for potential future world leaders will teach and model this principle.
The scarcity to abundance in mission shift refers to a culture of gratitude and the shared belief that there is always more than enough. The Lord’s provision comes as we follow him prayerfully and wait for his timing. ISI’s recent acquisition of a building after praying and waiting more than ten years is an example. The Lord abundantly provided in his way and in his time!
God’s Word reminds us in Prov. 16:3 NLT that we must “Commit your work to the LORD, and then your plans will succeed.” This remains true no matter how rapidly the culture shifts and social change occurs. Prov. 16:9 says simply that “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” That gives us the courage and security to continue to step our as we follow the Lord’s lead.
Principles cited in this blog: Social change is rapidly occurring and we must shift to adapt to it; simpler structures led by servant-leaders who mobilize and release people for ministry are needed; the Lord provides for all ministry we pray for, wait on him for, and follow him in doing.
Application for ISI ministry: ISI is paying attention to these changes and seeking to respond under the Lord’s leading to all of the needed shifts in ministry.
Next blog topic: The Muslim World
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson
 The Networked Church: 7 Critical Shifts for Moving Beyond Mega and Multisite