Below is summary of a webinar presented by The Church Network discussing the Project Thrive 7 Thriving Traits found in a congregational study conducted by Belmont in 2019. The webinar is part of a series that focuses on how congregations practice the thriving traits.

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Thriving Trait 5: Non-Traditional Leadership

Defined by Project Thrive: models adaptability, passion, and vision

Two pastors from North Carolina share their experience leading congregations. The adaptability of the leaders and congregations mirror the dramatic changes to their church buildings: monumental and necessary.

Discern Together

Emily McGee is the pastor of First Baptist on Fifth in Winston Salem, North Carolina. She shares the journey of her church tearing down two crumbling buildings through a church wide agreement.

First Baptist formed a committee within the church that discerned God’s vision for the church was to decrease in physical size. Together the church realized that such a large building wasn’t necessary to carry out their renewed calling.

Emily shares milestones of the congregation during her leadership:

  • It took a whole church to recognize and accept that the golden years were behind.
  • The church assessed and understood where ministry really happens: outside the building walls.
  • Leading with discernment, First Baptist on Fifth gained a renewed sense of direction: to be a welcoming home and community with well articulated values.

Driven by Vision

Kyle Thompson is a pastor of South Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. South Park discerned a new vision for a community transforming from a rural to a suburban area.

In the process of this new idea, South Park Church tore down their historic church. The leadership of a committee sought help from experienced churches, partnered with others from their denomination, and contacted private contractors to accommodate and minister to people in the changing area with a focus for community and church to intersect.

Kyle shares key non-traditional leadership practices:

  • Be driven by God’s vision.
  • Vision cast again and again.
  • Not only does the congregation need to buy into the vision, but the leader must also buy into God’s vision.
  • Be bold.


We witness how changes in culture affects the way churches and communities can thrive. We learn the value of adapting to changes through visionary, non-traditional leadership. How do the examples of leadership from Emily and Kyle encourage the vision process of your church?

Watch the full Non-Traditional Leadership webinar here.

Feel free to learn more about First Baptist on Fifth and South Park Church.

Want to learn more about the 7 Thriving Traits? Access videos and shareable content!