Archives For Revitalization

This post is all about what it takes to do the work of church revitalization. [Click On The Image To Read The Post]

Part 2 – The Confused Church

In a previous post, we discussed asking the hard questions for a church that is in a trauma situation and dying. (Read The First Post Here)
The good news is, not all churches are dying. Some churches just need some help in getting back on track.

What should a new pastor ask when learning about their new congregation?

I would say, you must understand what the church’s vision is. You must find out who they are as a people and how they function as a church.

We Must Ask Questions About the Mission and Vision of the Church.

1) What Is The Mission Of Your Church?

This first question is a revealing one. Some could answer based on felt needs; the mission of the church is to provide a great children’s program, or to provide for the needs of the community, or to set the stage for morality in the culture, or to equip Christians. Others could answer this question by reciting the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20).
While these may be the answers given, when asking questions about the mission you must look for a specific answer concerning the church’s vision. We are searching for the church’s unique identity and how they justify their existence; are they a family church, a church built on strong preaching, a church of disciple makers, or a church of faithful servants.
For my church, I have found that we are a very close-knit group of people that are fiercely committed to making disciples. Therefore, our Mission Statement is, We Are A Family On Mission To Make Disciples. It is who we are and how we function.
There are many possibilities to this question. Because God has designed each church to fulfill a unique role in His plan, each church has a unique identity, and it is the churches job to find it and leverage it for Kingdom growth.
To understand the mission of the church, we must first understand how they view their mission.
Which brings us to the question, What is the mission of your church?

2) How Does Your Church Accomplish The Mission In Their Community?

The church’s mission then is demonstrated into how they minister within their context. The question has often been asked, “If your church was to be gone tomorrow, how would that affect your community?” We are seeking to know how does the church accomplish its unique mission in the community.
Some may answer this by referring to a specific ministry program. If a church is highly evangelistic, they may tell you about a visitation or revival program. If the church is dedicated to children’s ministry, they may refer to their children’s events. If a church is inwardly focused, they may not have an answer to that question. If a church is unclear about their mission, you may have multiple answers to this question.
This question is vitally important. A church with a divided mission or an unclear mission will not succeed. Therefore, the church must be unified in their purpose. The role of the pastor is to help the church craft their mission and to implement that mission in their community. But first, the pastor must understand what that mission is and how it can be accomplished.
To understand the mission of the church, we must understand how the church members envision their mission working in their community.
Which brings us to the question, How Does Your Church Accomplish Their Mission In The Community?

3) What Does Your Church Need To Do To Grow?

The church’s mission can also be evaluated by seeking to know what needs to be done in the future. If the church thinks that future growth will come through the pastor making more hospital visits, then that tells you something about how the church views their mission and how they desire it to be carried out.
This question also challenges church members to think outside of their comfort zones. Many church members just do not think about how to grow their church, and if they did, they would be challenged to act. This is a great question to ask because it reveals how people understand the mission and calls them to be on mission at the same time.
To understand the mission of the church, we must understand how the mission can be implemented in the future.
Which brings us to the question, What Does your Church Need To Do to Grow?
In the role of church revitalization, church leadership must ask these types of questions. Without having these questions answered, the church quickly becomes confused and stagnant. If I can encourage you today, please begin to answer these questions to understand your church’s mission and find ways to reach your community through that mission.

Part 1 – The Trauma Situation

Just recently I had another pastor discuss with me a terrible situation he was facing. His church was dying. He was heartbroken over the situation. He had served that church faithfully for the past several years, doing all he could to lead the people to reach their community. Unfortunately, the congregation had given up on reaching out to the community, and when the pastor did something to bring the church into the present, the people were quickly frustrated. The situation felt hopeless, and he feared there was no helping the church. It seemed as if the church was destined to die.

The Church Was In A Trauma State

The church was slowly decreasing because of natural attrition, and new people were not joining the congregation. Because attendance was declining, the finances were too. The church had some financial reserves but not enough to carry them through with the debt accrued from the previous building project left by the former pastor. The church was bleeding out, people and resources were going out faster than they were coming in. Without intervention, the church would die soon. The church was in a trauma state.

Something had to be done. But what?

The pastor began changing things. He updated the service, started to meet with people in the community, and worked to improve the children’s and student ministries of the church. Sadly, all were met with opposition from existing church members. The service updates were met with criticism, the new people were not welcomed, and he seemed to be the only person willing to do anything for the ministries.

The church was not only bleeding out; It had a heart issue too. The church was in trauma state.

When a church is in the trauma state, you must act quickly. In the same way, a Doctor must work quickly in the trauma room with a patient that is bleeding profusely and having major issues with their heart, so must a pastor with a church in the trauma state.

Before the pastor can address the issues, he must assess the issues.

For Churches That Are In Trauma State We Must Examine The Heart

1) Do You Want To Change?

The first question is hard for some congregations to answer and yet the answer is so fundamental in moving toward new life.
I have seen the situation time and time again. Pastors who are eager, called, and equipped leave the seminary ready to serve in the church with visions of reaching the lost and serving faithfully. They meet with personnel committees to discuss the future, preach before enthusiastic congregations, and move their families across the country to help where they are called. All with the expectation that they are going to join God’s people on mission.

Only to realize that things are not exactly what they seemed. Fast forward four to twelve months and the situation has changed. The people have moved past enthusiasm into frustration and the church that was ready to reach the lost a few months ago has lost its vision entirely.

What went wrong?

The people did not want to change. If the people are so consumed with the past that they cannot move into to the current, then the church will remain stagnant until it fades into death.

The simple fact is, there are many people in churches that do not want the church to change. They emotionally hold onto the past.

They do not care for the future. They do not want to bother with making disciples or reaching the lost.

This is the church with a heart problem.

2) Are You Willing To Change?

The second question is just as hard as the first, and it too must be answered before moving forward.
While many people will say, “Yes, I want my church to change and grow to reach the lost” the truth is they are not willing to change.

Make no mistake, change in the church comes with a price. Some could find an issue with the new faces that have changed and the fact that they do not know everyone’s name. Others find change hard when it affects the way a ministry looks or works for them. While others are not seeing changes in the ways that they would like.

Let’s face it. Change is hard. Pastors would do well to understand that when implementing changes in their churches.

However, change is also a necessary part of life. We do not continue to use horse and buggy, and we do not continue to listen to eight tracks. The world has changed, and the church has to change with it. The church cannot continue to work in the nineteenth century when we are in the twenty-first century.

The point being, we as the church must be willing to change the way we do things. If we are not willing to adapt to share the gospel with an ever-changing world, we have a significant heart problem.

3) Can You Trust Your Pastor Through The Change?

In my first pastorate, I once had an older man tell me, “Son, you have to earn my trust.” While I understood the sentiment, I had to ask the man, “exactly how can I earn that trust?”

I had been the man’s pastor for a little over a year, and he was frustrated over a few small changes that the staff had made to the service. While I knew that the church services had not changed for decades and that this small change was a hard change for him, I also knew that he needed to trust me if we were going to start making moves to reach the next generation in our community.

Church members must be willing to extend trust to their church leadership.

There is no secret here. The church cannot function if the members are always questioning the method or integrity of the leadership. Therefore, something must be done. If a person cannot trust their pastor to seek God’s vision and implement that vision for the church, they shouldn’t be a part of that church.

When a pastor goes to a church they are brought in by a group of church leaders who have prayed over that decision, they are confirmed by the church body who have prayed over that decision, they have prayed over that decision, and finally they are voted in because the congregation believes that the pastor is God’s answer to those prayers. If a person cannot trust their pastor and his leadership then ultimately they are not trusting in God’s direction.

I fully understand that pastors are not perfect and that there are some who have done immoral things. However, God has a plan, and He places His servants in positions to fulfill His plan. The pastor is God’s under-shepherd, leading His people according to His plan. Churches must respect God’s will and plan for His church.

If a congregation cannot trust their pastor, there is a heart problem there.

 

What to do when faced with a dying church is not a fun or popular topic to discuss but it is a topic that needs to be discussed. We must be willing and ready to ask the questions needed, assess the situation, and make the changes to reach our communities.

In the future, I will be discussing more questions to ask your church to promote more church health. Please subscribe to recieve the future articles.

When a pastor is called to a church, the process is always exciting. The new pastor is usually anxious about the new assignment, and the church members anxiously await what changes the new pastor is going to make.

I can remember when I was called to my current church, and the first day I was asked, “Well pastor, what are you going to change first?” At that time, I didn’t have an answer to what needed to be changed, but I knew what needed to be added, a clear plan of discipleship.

A clear plan of discipleship is much needed in all churches but is required in the process of church revitalization. Here are three reasons why.

Discipleship Plays A Biblical Role in Revitalization

The Great Commission calls all Christians to make disciples. Matthew 28:18-20 is commonly known among churchgoers and pastors. So why do Churches continue to forget what they are called to do?

A church that is in the process of Church Revitalization must understand that when they do not make disciples, they are not fulfilling the commission to which Christ has called them. Therefore, a Church that is not practicing discipleship is disobedient to their Lord, Jesus.

Furthermore, discipleship is what has defined the church. Jesus modeled discipleship as he walked with his disciples and taught them about the Kingdom of God. Acts 11:21-26 describes Paul and Barnabas following Jesus’ example by making disciples in the early church. The church is defined by this Great Commission to make disciples; the Commission is a part of their purpose and identity. Therefore, a church that is not making disciples is a church that has forgotten her mission and has lost her identity.

Discipleship Plays An Vital Role in Revitalization

Churches may be great at implementing many different ministries. They may have a fantastic children’s program, student program, women’s ministry, and men’s ministry but if they are not fantastic at making disciples they are missing the most important thing.

In the consumer church culture, it is understandable how the church can emphasize whatever programs their culture desires. If a church is a traditional Christian area, they may focus on remaining traditional in worship style to meet the desire of the culture. If the church is in an area with young families, they may focus energy on the children’s ministries to satisfy the desire of the culture. While it is perfectly okay to contextualize ministry for the culture, a church must be diligent in keeping discipleship the focus of the ministry. Therefore, if the church is not teaching people to grow in their walk with Christ instead of the culture, the church is missing the point.

Discipleship Plays A Valuable Role in Revitalization

I don’t believe that anyone would argue that Churches going through revitalization are in need of some new growth. And the great news about discipleship is this; Discipleship helps the church to grow.

A church that is evangelizing the lost, teaching their congregants the Scripture, and challenging them to share the gospel with their lost friends and family is a church that will inevitably experience growth. God is faithful, and when we are obedient to his call, He blesses our obedience. Therefore, when we make disciples as He has called us to, He brings the growth to the church.

While church growth may reveal itself in different ways over the life of the church, growth is an indicator of church health. For some churches growth may present itself through an abundance of lost people becoming Christians, for others, it may be an increase in small groups, and others it may be Christians being sent out to start new ministries. Therefore, A church that is not growing is not a healthy church.

The simple truth is, No church makes disciples by accident.

Which should cause a church to ask a few questions…

  • Is my church growing?
  • Is there a clear path of discipleship for people to follow?
  • Is the path of discipleship producing the results desired?

While many more questions must be asked and answered, this should get you thinking about how your churches’ discipleship process is working or not working.

The church has been Commissioned with a great responsibility to make disciples, and we have been given enormous power to accomplish that mission. May our churches be known by how we make disciples for the cause of Christ.

For more posts in this series check out these previous posts.

Step 1: Pray For Revitalization

Step 2: Seek God’s Word in Revitalization

Step 3: The Pastor’s Role in Revitalization

It has been my experience that every church is going through a process of revitalization in some form or another. I have never met a pastor who did not want their church to be healthier or to grow. Every church that I have served in tirelessly worked to be more useful for the glory of God.

We pushed because we knew church health and the salvation of souls hung in the balance. We worked hard in revitalization because we knew that churches that revitalize well, in most cases experience biblical growth and churches that do not work at revitalization end up in stagnation and death. Church revitalization must be a constant work of every church leader. But what does it look like to revitalize well?

After leading churches in the work of revitalization and working through countless hours of materials on church revitalization, I have found three things to be imperative for the work of revitalization. Here is the third step.

(Click Here For Step 1)

(Click Here For Step 2)

Understanding The Pastor’s Role in Church Revitalization

The Pastor is the Front Runner For Revitalization.

The pastor plays a vital role in communicating the vision of church revitalization. The pastor is the out-front and visible leader of the church. Therefore, the pastor is designed to be the one leading the charge for church revitalization. He is delegating tasks and letting people know what needs to get done. There is also great power in the pulpit to steer the church, and the pastor must utilize this power to lead the church in the process of revitalization. Casting a vision of the church’s bright future to reach the next generation for the cause of the Kingdom, and proclaim salvation in Christ alone is the pastor’s privilege and responsibility.

The Pastor is the Visionary for Revitalization.

The pastor must have a clear vision for revitalization. When a church makes shifts to become healthy and effective, the forces of evil always push back. Pushback may present itself through spiritual warfare on the pastor’s family, or resistance to change from the church family. Regardless of the method, the pastor must have a clear vision of the Lord for the mission of revitalization. If the pastor committed to church revitalization, the church will lose sight of their purpose and return to stagnation. But if the pastor is clear and committed to what the Lord has called, he will remain faithful and see his calling for church revitalization through.

The Pastor is the Leader for Revitalization

Church revitalization is hard work for a pastor. Churches consist of people who want to run the church their way, individuals who desire for nothing to change or grow, apathetic people who don’t care whether the church grows or stagnates, and others who wish to see their church grow but don’t know how to go about it. Therefore, strong pastoral leadership is a requirement for church revitalization. Pastors must determine if they are ready and committed to lead the church to take on the mission of revitalization. Church revitalization takes time, and if the pastor is already considering a move or is uncommitted to the church’s future, it would be best for the pastor not to take the leadership role the process of revitalization.

The process of church revitalization is not an easy task. Leading a church through the many stages of church revitalization, namely, grieving the past, working through change, and envisioning a future takes patience and endurance for even the most seasoned pastors. Theologically we must understand that while church revitalization is complicated, God cares about the health of his church. Jesus loves his bride greatly, and he will return for her soon (Rev 19:7). He has even given her great, enduring power in a dark world and has promised her victory over the powers of hell (Matt 16:18). While the work of church revitalization is no doubt hard work, God has called us to the task, and I believe the work is worth the effort.

It has been my experience that every church is going through a process of revitalization in some form or another. I have never met a pastor who did not want their church to be healthier or to grow. Every church that I have served in tirelessly worked to be more useful for the glory of God.

We pushed because we knew church health and the salvation of souls hung in the balance. We worked hard in revitalization because we knew that churches that revitalize well, in most cases experience biblical growth and churches that do not work at revitalization end up in stagnation and death. Church revitalization must be a constant work of every church leader. But what does it look like to revitalize well?

After leading churches in the work of revitalization and working through countless hours of materials on church revitalization, I have found three things to be imperative for the work of revitalization. Here is the second step.

(Click Here For Step 1)

Step 2: Seek God’s Word in Revitalization

God’s Word plays a vital role in revitalization. God’s Word has been used in the process of revitalization by many leading their congregations to new health (Ezra 6:18; Neh 8:1-12). The primary way to apply God’s Word in revitalization is first to look to the Word for guidance.

Apply The Word Personally & Corporately

Church leadership should ask, what are we doing that is against God’s word? If there is anything there, they must stop and repent of it. Leadership must then extend this to the congregation. Is there a brother or sister that is living outside of God’s will and is not addressed with the Scriptures? After all, we know “that a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1Cor 5:6-7). Therefore, we must practice biblical, loving church discipline for the restoration of our brother, the health of the church, and the building of the body (Matt 18:15-20). If a church is going to seek church revitalization, they must be committed to God’s word personally.

Align With The Word In Ministry

The leadership should then ask, what are we doing outside of God’s word? We live in a culture of consumer Christianity, and church leaders are tempted to incorporate anything into their church that may attract new members. But for the church that is in need of revitalization, they must clear out what is non-essential and focus on what the Lord would have them do. There is a great benefit for the church that obeys the Lord. Ministering through an evangelism program will always produce more profit for the kingdom than a coffee bar. Churches will do everything under the sun in the name of ministry, but churches should focus on what the Lord would have them do.

Communicate The Word Passionately

Finally, leadership must ask, are we communicating God’s word? There is nothing like the pure preaching of God’s Word to bring life and vision to the people. Preachers who desire to have healthy churches must preach God’s word to their people. They are not to add to the Scripture their own opinions or logic. They are merely to read the text and share God’s truth from it. The Scripture must drive their sermon.

God’s Word is vital and necessary for both the believer and the church. Will you commit with me to seek the Word of God?

It has been my experience that every church is going through a process of revitalization in some form or another. I have never met a pastor who did not want their church to be healthier or to grow. Every church that I have served in tirelessly worked to be more useful for the glory of God.

We pushed because we knew church health and the salvation of souls hung in the balance. We worked hard in revitalization because we knew that churches that revitalize well, in most cases experience biblical growth and churches that do not work at revitalization end up in stagnation and death. Church revitalization must be a constant work of every church leader. But what does it look like to revitalize well?

After leading churches in the work of revitalization and working through countless hours of materials on church revitalization, I have found three things to be imperative for the work of revitalization. Here is the first step.

Step 1: Pray For Revitalization

The starting point for any church that desires to begin the revitalization process is prayer. The early church was founded and flourished through the power of prayer (Acts 2:42) and churches today will do the same if they turn to the Lord in prayer.

Seek The Lord’s Will

The church must first pray to know God’s will and wisdom for the church. Just as Jesus’ model prayer is for Christians to pray for God’s will to be done in the world (Matt 6:10), the pastor and church leaders must seek out the God’s will for their church. The prayer for revitalization will then seek to align with God’s will through a prayer of repentance. Repentance is required because there is no perfect or utterly healthy church. Church leadership must understand there are areas in the past in which the church needs to get right with God. Repenting of past, unconfessed sin or areas that are just not in line with the Lord’s will are places to start getting right with the Lord.

Seek The Lord’s Vision

Along with seeking the Lord’s will, church leadership should be praying for a renewed vision from the Lord. They should be asking, what does the future look like for our church? And, how can we as a church get there? These types of questions must be open-ended for God to move and speak. If the leadership is unwilling to let God give his vision for the church or if the leadership tries to steer the conversation with God, they could miss his answer and direction for the future of the church.

Seek The Lord’s Unity

Once God’s vision has been established the leadership must ask God for unity in the church through the revitalization process. Church revitalization is often a hard thing for church members because it requires a certain amount of change. Change in the church can quickly lead to fear and division, and therefore church leaders must plead with the Lord to bring unity to his church.

Seek The Lord’s Power

Furthermore, the church revitalization process requires prayer to access God’s power. Scripture tells us that God is the source of church growth (1Cor 3:6) and the church must recognize God as the source of church growth by pleading with Him for his movement among his people.

Will You Join Me In Praying For Our Churches To Be Revitalized and Our People To See Revival and Awakening?