7 Marks

of Transformative Faith Communities

TRC has identified seven marks of transformative faith communities that serve as the framework for the entire learning process.

Each characteristic includes a belief (paradigm) and a set of behaviors (practices) that bring holistic and lasting change to the culture, mindset, practice, and skill set of a church and its leaders.

I

Clarity of Mission and Calling

Transformative churches have a clear and compelling understanding of why they exist and what they are called to as a faith community. They can articulate their identities and missions. People at every level of the church can clearly answer the question: “What is the story we are called to live out as a community of Jesus followers?” Further, they express this focus in their allocation of resources and communal practices.

II

Understanding Context

Transformative churches understand their identities, have a strong missional anthropology, and are able to exegete their current cultures. They have authentic, active engagement with their communities, and the ability to adapt and innovate as the culture changes without altering or weakening their foundational beliefs and callings.

III

Resilient and Adaptive Leadership

Transformative churches understand and clarify the nature of the adaptive challenges we all now face, especially in light of the Covid-19 crisis. This adaptation involves defining threats, seeing opportunities, embracing paradigm changes, and preparing for the ever-increasing seasons of transition.

IV

Missional/Incarnational Impulse

Transformative churches grasp the imperative understanding of God as a sending God and recognize themselves as a church of sent people. As a result, they integrate into their communities and impact their neighborhoods and cities, having been transformed by incarnating Jesus in everyday life in everyday circumstances.

V

Formational Rhythms

Transformative churches incorporate personal and communal rhythms into a disciple-making culture. These rhythms include spiritual formation, intentional community, and missional activity on a personal and communal level. Such faith communities recognize that if they form mission-minded disciples, they build the church. If, however, they aim to build the church, they may not build disciples. 

VI

Dynamic Leadership Development

Transformative churches develop cultures of leadership and processes of leadership development that equip ownership and participation by the entire faith community. They facilitate environments that empower laity, rather than environments that are clergy-centric or staff-driven, while developing the character, competence, and Christlikeness of multiple leaders across the church. As a result, the faith community becomes decentralized—flattening both the tiers of responsibility and authority–and fostering a culture of ownership, innovation, and collaboration.

VII

Strategy for Healthy Scale

Transformative churches intentionally embody an agreed-upon set of core values and a shared purpose that enables them to grow in healthy, lightweight, and sustainable ways. Their organic systems, rhythms, and practices produce health and movement on an individual church level. These organizational frameworks are low in control but high in accountability; enhance mission, not hinder it; and are “movemental” rather than institutional in nature.