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Scrappy Church: A Review

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Revitalization

At Crossroads Community Church, we’ve been working through Thom Rainer’s book, Scrappy Church.

First…Church Mindset.

With eyes of faith, we intend to be moving forward, under God’s direction and power. One of the main ideas we have been impressed with is to recognize those in our congregation with a vision, those who see God working every week in the church, these are sparks of hope that allow us to envision bright possibilities.

As a church, yes, we are small, and, yes, we are rural. However, as a church body united, we are in agreement to drop the blame-and-excuse protocol that is so easy to fall into. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19:

“…my God will meet all your needs according to the rifhes of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

With this verse tucked in our minds and souls, we recognize that God has the resources on hand and is willing to provide them to His children.

We also have to recognize that sometimes we see specific people as obstacles. Yet, the author of Scrappy Church reminds us of the 11 times in the New Testament we are instructed to love one another…why? Because sometimes it isn’t easy. Once we transition our mindset properly, we recognize that those people are part of the church body, not the obstacle. With a fresh attitude, we find that, instead, people can be our allies.

Change Resistant or Receptive?

In resisting change, we let God know that we don’t believe He is in control. We need to hold these negative thoughts and attitudes in the Light, allow God to wash us clean, and consistently make the effort to proceed along the positive axis. In so doing, we, as a body of believers, can move ourselves, others, even the whole church, from despondency (despair) to joy.

Church change is not a challenge for the weak-kneed. It can be intimidating, even frightening. Paul encouraged Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP):

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]”.

Things may seem impossible…but Jesus said otherwise in Matthew 19:

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Jesus clearly tells his disciples (including me) that things we think are impossible are so very possible for God.

So…What is a Scrappy Church?

Some of the characteristics of Scrappy Churches that the author makes note of are that:

  1. Scrappy Churches believe that God still has a plan for them.
  2. Scrappy Churches turn to prayer for the turnaround.
  3. Scrappy Churches greatly increase their efforts on Outward Focus.
  4. Scrappy Churches celebrate the presence of other churches.

Prerequisites for turn-around churches involved a significant change of attitudes. I’ll call them ‘Stop’ and ‘Go’ precepts.

The first red light is to stop making excuses. “We’re too small.” “We don’t have enough people.” “We don’t have finances.” Excuses Street is a waste of time and energy.

The second red light is to stop shifting blame…to other churches…to the congregation…to the pastor…to the community. Blame Boulevard is a dead end with no way out.

Thirdly, we stop drawing comparisons of our church to others. This practice only brings a sense of inadequacy, despondency, and such…another firm STOP.

In terms of green lights, the author advises dealing with critics in a healthy manner…including praying over them consistently. Staying focused on God and his call shifts our vision to Him and off the critics. The other green light is for the leaders (and the church) to become continuous learners.

Every day is a new opportunity to learn.

The Turnaround Cycle

THE TURNAROUND CYCLE involves three prongs.

Outward Deluge

In the OUTWARD DELUGE, the church will have a sustained outward focus intentionally connected to the church.

That scenario comes with four components:

  • It involves a significant number of church members.
  • It is a year-round ministry.
  • It is part of the church’s identity.
  • It is strategically and intentionally connected to the church.

Welcome Readiness

The second prong is WELCOME READINESS, where we take notice of what a first-time guest might experience when they visit. There are 3 “buckets”, as the author refers to them, that promote Welcome Readiness:

  1. Attitudinal Change – As we work through the opportunities (and challenges) of welcoming others, we take responsibility for changes that need to be made. The scrappy church will make corrections humbly and with a contrite spirit.
  2. Actionable Change – From the point of view of a guest, we will determine items that will need to change or be upgraded. Recently, we were able to change out the faded, rusty handicapped parking signs for new ones, even cutting back the bushes so that the signs could be read! Many things can be done with very little investment but provide a significant improvement.
  3. Assimilation Change – Scrappy churches can assimilate guests effectively by developing relationships with them. Practically speaking, we learn names, sit with the newcomers at potlucks, find common interests, etc.

Back Door Closure

The third prong is BACK DOOR CLOSURE. We want people coming in…and staying. Several things have been found to be productive in this area. The author provides a deeper study in the book. However, suffice it to say that high expectations, an active New Members Class, small group and ministry involvement, all play critical roles in retaining people in the church.

The subtitle of the book Scrappy Church is this: God’s Not Done Yet.

God is ready for us to partner up, and take ownership with Him, in the ministry of Crossroads Community Church. Our church has been in existence for 63 years in this community for a purpose.

God’s Not Done Yet.

And neither are we.

Interested in walking your church through Scrappy Church? Contact Alan Weinacht today.

mindy-burns-b&wMindy Burns / Pastor

Follower of Jesus | Embracing Faith | Encouraging Others with God’s Word

Born and raised in the Pacific NW, Mindy enjoys life near the ocean. She and her husband Dan of 35 years share in the ministry at Crossroads Community Church in Astoria, Oregon. In addition to their children and grandchildren, they enjoy extended family and friends at every opportunity. Having spent many professional years as an RN, today’s hobby finds her immersed in the world of Japanese glass floats and related maritime relics.