Mindset by Carol Dweck is a great book. The point behind her theory is that some people are wired to accept a challenge for the sake of learning. These people have a growth mindset. Whether or not they are successful, they believe the challenge will help them to learn, and in many ways, they may even enjoy it.
On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset don’t want to experience failure. They would rather stick with something they know and do well in order to not be labeled a failure. They will choose the less challenging path, so they can continue to support their own notion of “being good” at whatever it is. A person with a fixed mindset would rather not take a risk than look like a failure to the outside world.
I wonder if churches can fall into this category. I wonder if it’s why churches stick with what they know worked years ago. I wonder what it would take for a church body to develop a growth mindset.
While a person can begin to change this about themselves, it’s not easy.
Jesus Calls for a Growth Mindset
Jesus’ invitation to “follow me and become fishers of men” called for a growth mindset. It was new. It required new ways of operating. Those first disciples didn’t know if they could do it, if it would work, or what the challenge fully meant.
The parable of the talents also called for a growth mindset. The challenge of taking something and increasing it required risk. The master chastised the one who wouldn’t take risks with what was given to him.
Pastors and church leaders: Where are you? Does the challenge to try, learn, fail, and keep trying cause you to become stoked or stalled?
How can a church develop a growth mindset? Here are six thoughts:
Trust In God’s Power
People – and churches – are terrible at estimating their own abilities and potential. Typically, a growth mindset will be better able to understand potential than a fixed mindset. A church should trust God’s power and presence to be with them. The Holy Spirit is at work, Jesus is always with us, and the word of God will never fail. This alone should cause us to move toward a growth mindset.
The Church Belongs to Jesus
Thankfully, we don’t own the church. It belongs to Jesus. We are managers, stewards, and shepherds of the church, which is ultimately God’s. In several different ways throughout scripture, Jesus teaches that those who do not bear fruit are cut off. We must have a growth mindset as we work and serve on behalf of Jesus in his kingdom.
Put In The Effort
A fixed mindset assumes that you are all you will be and you can’t change because that is who you are. A growth mindset is all about believing you can change. But becoming better requires action and hard work. It requires time. It requires effort. You must work to change your own mindset and that of your congregation. [Read: Everyone Wins When The Leader Gets Better]
Know You Can Change
You may listen to or read about churches that are wildly successful in ministry leadership, evangelism, reaching out, or developing people. But your church doesn’t have those leaders; they have you. Your church isn’t located there; it’s located in your community for this time in history. Don’t wait to get to your next church. Change the one you are in now. Your church is where it is for a reason. You are leading your church for this season because you’ve been called. Know you can make a difference.
Ask The Right Question
Don’t ask, “How can we grow?” Ask “What is keeping us from growing?” One role the leader has is to help remove barriers to growth. Often, these barriers can be overcome with small successes, an invitation to try something new, or anything to do with reaching out to kids in the community. [READ: Is Your Church at a Growth Barrier? Ask This Simple Question.]
On a practical level, how are you inviting people to your church? What are you doing to reach out to the community? Who have you talked with this week? Who have you invited to church? Invitations are simple, but staying intentional is backbreaking work. It takes time, diligence, and a heart for your church and its potential. Rick Warren once quipped, “It’s easy to grow a church, you just have to get people to show up.” Lots of internal issues can be solved by simply getting new people involved. [READ: Invite. Invite. Invite.]
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