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2021 Assembly: Ryan Panzer Keynote 2

By The Rev. Michele Fischer, Colony – Newberry

In the second part of his keynote address, Ryan Panzer talked about how hybrid ministry presents as an adaptive leadership challenge towards a new way of being church. And when he speaks about hybrid ministry, he means ministry that is both invitational and inclusive.

But how do we explain this to our congregations? Panzer suggests we start by talking about “why.”

When we begin to talk about a new program or idea, we often talk about what we are going to do; for example, we may talk about streaming worship or doing a Bible study on Zoom. Panzer suggests a new way of thinking.  We will be more successful if instead we start by asking, “Why are we going to do this new thing?”

This leadership change model is described by Simon Sinek as the “golden circle.”  The golden circle is a circle with three concentric rings. At the center of the circle is “why. The next circle is “how,” and the final circle is “what.”

As human beings, we are always listening for the story, the narrative.  When we start with the “why,” we begin to tell a story, about the people we hope will be impacted. And the story is always more interesting than how or what we are going to do.

Why do we want to do hybrid ministry? We want to create a ministry that is engaging, inviting and inclusive.

So how do we create a parity of experience?  Panzer gave three examples:

  • In worship, we need to pay attention to our language. Are we talking to those who are watching online? Do those watching online have an opportunity to add to the prayers of the church or to make announcements?  
  • In faith formation, we need to provide opportunities for people to engage in their own time. We can post things to social media, allow for comments and texting so people can login when their schedules allow it.
  • In church leadership, we can create flexible leadership processes even when we cannot gather. We can experiment with flexible models. Can our office and council work be done online to make the time we have together more productive?

If we expect the congregation to engage in both online and in person activities, we as leaders need to model that to our people.

If we start with “why” and then move to “how” and “what,” we may find our people more willing to try new things. When introducing change, we need to be able to answer all three questions. 

 To conclude his keynote, Panzer invited us to join him for online conversations on the final circle, “what.” This summer, he will leader three online seminars on hybrid worship, hybrid faith formation and hybrid church leadership. The seminars will be presented at 10 am on Tuesday, July 29, August 5 and August12. Information on registration for these seminars will be on the South Carolina Synod’s website.

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