5 Ways that Leaders Can Foster a Growth Mindset in their Churches
How do we cultivate a church culture where people actually want to grow in their affection for Christ and in their capacity to serve Him more effectively? Without a growth mindset, people will likely be satisfied with a mediocre distortion of biblical Christianity—"a standard churchy spirituality that doesn't require any real action, courage, or sacrifice" (Allan Hirsch).
A deep, disciple-making movement is possible when people grow in their relationship with God, develop godly character, pursue their God-given calling, love others, and hone and use their gifts/abilities in tandem with others (see Seven Dimensions of Christian leadership).
Let me share five ways that leaders can foster a growth mindset in their churches:
1. Share what you're learning
Growing leaders inspire others to grow. I would encourage leaders to humbly share what they’re learning from Scripture, what is helping them from their other reading and watching, and the lessons God is trying to teach them through their mistakes and successes. Be open and transparent about your journey.
2. Facilitate learning experiences
If you’re a ministry leader, you must facilitate learning experiences for your ministry team. Regularly debrief with team members one-on-one and as a team to catch key lessons that will strengthen people and the ministry. Do training activities with your team whether it’s 15 minutes at the start of a meeting or at an annual retreat.
As a ministry leader, be on the lookout for excellent resources that will build up your team. If you’re a church board chair, you may want to purchase books for your board members and then spend time each board meeting working through some of the content. It’s easy to pass along links to great blog articles, TED Talks, and other easily accessible resources. I also like to look for person-specific resources that match the expressed needs of individual team members. Of course, we need to pass on only the best resources and to do so at an acceptable pace. We don’t want to overwhelm people with too much information that may weigh them down.
4. Ask good, coaching questions
We can stimulate learning and growth through any conversation. Good questions can help people think in new and deeper ways. Here are some examples of questions that leaders can ask to expand people’s thinking:
- What are you learning from this experience?
- How do you see God at work in this situation?
- What are some options that you have not seriously considered yet?
- What would you like this ____________ (relationship, ministry, program, etc.) to look like in three years?
5. Pray for God’s Spirit to Work in People’s Lives
This is so critical. Hudson Taylor said it well: "We need to learn to move [people] through God by prayer alone." God responds to the prayers of His people and often does immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. Now, this does not diminish the importance of the previous four ways of fostering a growth mindset, but it does put them in their proper place. Deep growth happens as God’s Spirit moves in people’s lives.
Abraham Maslow once said, "In any given moment we have two options: To step forward into growth or to step back into safety."
As we and our people choose to step forward again and again, we will position the church for maximum growth and discipleship.
Note: Fostering a growth mindset, as described in this blog, is the third of eleven essential elements for Developing a Strategic Pathway for Discipleship in Your Church.
Randy Wollf is the Director of MinistryLift and Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Leadership Studies at MB Seminary.