Something that’s resilient has the ability to spring back, says Charlotte Wright, the Brookfield Institute’s Resilient Congregations Program Director. It’s not a matter of building walls so nothing bad happens, but more a matter of rolling with the changes.
She cites three main characteristics she’s learned through her work with congregations that she says help ensure recovery.
1. A staunch acceptance of reality. Wright says a congregation that has a good grasp of what’s going on and isn’t living in a golden age or in the past will be more able to accept changes in the present and future.
2. A deep belief that what they’re doing makes a difference. People who have faith, that understand there’s a bigger purpose and know that God’s not done with them yet, are able to carry on. They’re able to realize that even if a church closes, they’re not done yet. Bigger things are going on.
3. The ability to improvise. Resilient groups are quick on their feet, able to be clear on their purpose. They’re nimble, Wright says.
If a church goes through adversity, it’s not the end, Wright assures. The church will come out different, not dead. And preparing a congregation for change is essential. “At some point, something’s going to happen — a minister leaves, pledges go down, the roof falls in. Churches aren’t static so they have to think about how to be resilient in the face of change.”