Thriving Traits


Hear from Dr. Jon Roebuck:

Thriving Traits: Hopefulness

How does hope impact the congregation and does hope impact a community? Two leaders share what having hope as a focal point in unique contextual settings looks like for their churches.

Video Transcribed:
Hey everyone! Jon here with Project Thrive.

As you know Dr. Gwaltney and I are co-directing Project Thrive. A five-year program to help churches in the inner core of Nashville to build a brighter future for themselves, to go from survival to a thriving mode. One of the things we want to share with you through video is the seven characteristics of thriving congregations.

Now if you’ve been a part of Project Thrive over the last couple years, you’ve heard us talk about these characteristics from time to time. But we did feel it was important for everyone to be on the same page.

We want you to understand what these seven traits are so you can begin to think: Does this apply to my congregation? If it doesn’t apply is this something that we can begin to build, is there a culture around this topic that we can begin to invest in as a congregation?

Now as you’ve heard in the introductory video, Dr. Gwaltney and I and several others, we spent an entire summer researching churches across the entire United States that were located in the inner core of a city, a city much like Nashville.

And we began to look at congregations to see what’s making them effective in ministry in the places where they are, as opposed to churches that are not being effective.

We came up with these seven characteristics. I wanted to share the first characteristic with you in this video. It’s the characteristic of hopefulness. A church whose culture was filled with a sense of hope.

Now, let’s be honest. We know lot of congregations as the years progress and maybe neighborhoods transition, or maybe numbers begin to decline – they begin to become very siloed if you will, they become very self-centered and become a little bit fearful about the future.

You will hear them say things like: we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the people, we don’t have the neighborhood we once had.

They live in fear about what the future’s going to hold.

But we discovered in our work that thriving congregations, instead of having their life centered in fear, they have a sense of energy or enthusiasm about their congregation that is rooted in hope.

In other words, these congregations believe that they can make a difference. Many of the pastors in fact said to us “we don’t think God is through with us. We believe that we have been placed in this setting for a reason and for a purpose. We’re here to find out what that is.”

They begin to look to the future not with fear and anxiety but with joy and even with a sense of anticipation – asking themselves the questions: What is God going to do with us, what does God want us to become, what are the people around us that God longs for us to reach?

The pastor, the leadership team in the church, the key leaders in the church all begin to develop a culture of hopefulness that becomes a very contagious spirit in a church.

When people begin to dream, when they begin to think about hope filled thoughts in terms of “we can become this” or “God wants us to do that, or to reach this particular people group,” then great things begin to happen.

The question to ask your congregation is: “Are we a hopeful church?”

I’m not talking about a false optimism that believes beyond the facts or that believes beyond reason. I’m talking about a congregation that has hope in the ability of God to transition their church and even transition their lives… that they look to the future knowing that they can make a difference in the world in which they live.

So, the first characteristic we want for you to know about is the characteristic of hopefulness. I hope you understand that.