5. Things are kind of the same.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege of visiting dozens of churches across North America. In each of these contexts leaders are proud to tell you what’s unique about the community they are reaching. They are clear on how their community is unlike any other in the country, maybe the world! Although it may be true, one of the things I’ve noticed is how similar the communities we serve are. The global dominant culture means that all of our communities have the same stores and restaurants … people listen to similar music … and they are talking about similar issues. This should be an encouragement for church leaders to borrow and adapt ideas from churches in other communities. I sometimes think we overemphasize our ability to dissect our local culture and that hinders us from applying lessons from other churches.
6. The journey is half the fun.
Friendships form during shared experiences. Your closest friends are people whom you have had a bunch of experiences with. When you travel with other people, you are building a bunch of shared experiences … you’re having fun together! So many times on these trips it’s been the late-night conversations over a plate of nachos that have stuck with me. There’s something about team members seeing leaders in a casual setting that draws the whole team together. The process of getting there isn’t a hassle … it’s the point!
7. Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
Even when I’ve visited the most compelling “name brand” churches, I still come home thankful that I get to serve where I do. There are always aspects of other ministries that I wish we could just “copy and paste,” but on the whole I come home to our community with a deep thankfulness that I get to do this with these people. The grass is green where you water it. Taking time to visit another church gives me a deeper sense of the mission God has called our church to.
8. Dig into the details.
You can read about the “big concepts” and “strategies” of thriving churches. In fact, you will probably understand them before you arrive. But the difference between reality and what’s written in a book or on a blog is a series of very small details. To visit another church is to see the vision in the details. It’s how the church you’re visiting executes its vision that creates traction. Look for the details.
9. Worship … without run sheets!
Finally, as church leaders we spend a lot of time serving other people. When you are visiting another church, you can participate like a normal person, not having to worry about what’s coming up next or if the video fired correctly or any other details. It’s sad, but sometimes we have to get far away from our context to get this opportunity.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.