Bringing New Life To Your Church
Bringing New Life To Your Church
Call me crazy. Call me a dreamer. Call me unrealistically positive (as one of my fellow clergypersons did a few years ago). Call me all of these things, but I just believe that the same Holy Spirit who birthed the church is able and willing to revive dead, dying, stagnated churches and breathe new life into them, thereby enabling them to reach thousands. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve pastored churches where it has happened. And yet, I have also seen the very people the Spirit wants to use quench the Spirit with their negativity, disbelief, and lack of risk-taking faith. Ultimately, God’s Spirit will have the final say, but God wants us to be active participants in our own resurrection. One of my mentors in ministry, Dr. Zan Holmes, once said to me, “Work as if it all depends on you; pray as if it all depends on God.”
With that advice in mind, I now pass along to us all just a few keys to church revitalization that we must not ignore:
Key #1: Be willing to ask the tough questions before you even begin to consider the work of revitalizing a church. Let’s face it: church revitalization is not for the faint at heart. Let’s also face this: the respect and unquestioned authority the church once had is either fading or has completely faded. Thus – especially here on the East Coast - the church must ask herself some foundational questions IF we are going to reach those whom we currently do not reach. Among those questions are:
- Do we REALLY believe that knowing Jesus can make a positive difference in one’s life? If not, why not? If so, why do we not have a greater sense of urgency when it comes to evangelizing and reaching those who may neither have a relationship with God nor be active participants in the Lord’s church?
- Why is church membership any different than membership in any other civic organization, such as The Elks or The Rotary Club? What is it about the Church that should set it apart? In simpler terms, “WHY the Church?”
- Specifically, what does our local church (insert the name of your church right here) have to offer our community or our world? What is so compelling about our church that non-members would say, “Now THAT is a place I need to be!”
- Do we REALLY want our church to grow? Because, if and when it does, it will probably grow with people who are NOT like me, and it may eventually grow to the point where I don’t know each and every person on a first name basis like I have for the past 10+ years.
Key #2: All leaders must commit themselves to pray daily for the church, its leaders, and its ministries. Revival without prayer is impossible. We cannot lead a church into growth if our own spiritual life is parched and stagnated. As I am often fond of saying, “We cannot lead where we do not go, we cannot teach what we do not know.”
Key #3: We must be willing to re-invent the church, including making sweeping changes in leadership when necessary. When I ran track years ago, we learned a simple key to winning a relay race: if you are not willing to pass the baton off to the next person, you will be disqualified and your team will NOT win. Period. Churches that grow and revitalize after a period of stagnation almost always do so when new leaders are identified, cultivated, taught, and empowered to lead. It’s not about replacing “old” people; it’s about skillfully and willingly passing the baton to the next team members so that the team wins.
Granted, there are MANY more components to church revitalization, but without these foundational keys in place our efforts will most likely be in vain. Let’s pray that these will at least get the conversation started!