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Published on Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lessons from Fellowship: Frequently Changing

There's a saying at Fellowship Church: "FC means Frequently Changing". Very little stays the same from month to month when it comes to the worship services. New sermon series always mean new graphics and video openers and there's usually a new set design, too. "Be consistently inconsistent," says the senior pastor, Ed Young, Jr. about delivering creative, compelling and memorable services.

I've learned that this constant attention to change has some very positive aspects:

    * Attendees will invite their friends enthusiastically and frequently because you never know what's next.
    * The attention to change is coupled with attention to detail. Very few churches execute as well as Fellowship.
    * It's infrequent that you'd ever get bored with a sermon series, because they rarely last more than four weeks.

My experiences when at Fellowship, both from a volunteer's perspective and as a member lead me to fully believe in this model of creative change when it comes to turning weekend services into weekend experiences.

However, I've also seen some negative repercussions to some types of change:

    * Change for the sake of change often leaves people confused and slows momentum.
    * Changing at the last minute usually involves compromise that negatively affects people.
    * Change at the last minute requires a thorough understanding of the "Reality Triangle" (see below).
    * Changing people from their area of gifting into another area may stretch a person and show loyalty, but it also takes the joy out of their job.

You can have it one of three ways:

 * Good + Fast - but it's not Cheap.
 * Fast + Cheap - but it's not Good.
 * Cheap + Good - but it's not Fast.

It is my opinion that Fellowship's leadership wants to be able to turn on a dime and still create top-notch quality. That ultimately means that they will often choose Good + Fast - but it's not Cheap. Said another way, Fellowship, in an effort to have last-minute flexibility and outstanding results will throw money and people at a problem in order to get it done. If you have this kind of structure and the finances to do it, go for it. The reality is, however, that most churches can't afford this method.

I've also seen that people - both staff and volunteers - go through burnout faster than at other churches. I've heard it described by some staff at Fellowship that the cycle of projects at the church is similar to the tides of the ocean: sometimes the tide comes in and everyone pulls together, pours on the effort and trudges through while at other times things are easy and people get time off to make up for extra effort. That sounds great, but over the last year (maybe two), I've not seen a lot of "low tides" at Fellowship.

The repercussion have also been seen with the turnover of staff, which I think is one of the saddest parts of change for the sake of change. I really do love Fellowship, but wanted to continue with my bold and honest opinions about the great lessons and unfortunate lessons learned while I've served as a volunteer at this amazing church.

By Anthony D. Coppedge, CTS (

Anthony Coppedge provides consulting to churches for developing and growing a Media Ministry, building teams, casting vision and even choosing the right equipment. He lives in Bedford, Texas with his wife and two daughters and can be reached at [email protected].

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