Church revitalization is both a popular and critical need in North America. That’s one reason I’m glad to be a part of Church Answers and Revitalize Network. Sometimes, however, pastors and church leaders overcomplicate the process of revitalization. Here are some simple steps all of us pastors can take:
- Evaluate your own level of commitment to the church. If you already have one foot in the next church you want to lead, you’ll never lead your current church to growth. Your heart’s not in it.
- Enlist a prayer team that focuses intentionally on revitalization. I fear that too many revitalization efforts emphasize strategy without leaning on the power of God. A lack of prayer means our efforts are all in our power — and that’s ultimately fruitless.
- Take responsibility for the decline or growth of the church. I realize this step is a controversial one, and I know that God is ultimately responsible for any growth in our churches. My point is that leaders who always blame others for the church’s condition seldom lead a church to change.
- Know your community well — do a demographic study. If you’re only guessing about the demographics of your community, you don’t have enough data to move your church toward revitalization. Knowing your community well will (a) increase your burden for your neighbors and (b) bring focus to your church growth strategy.
- Don’t worry about changing the whole church; instead, focus on changing lives. Even Jesus didn’t get all His followers on board. You and I won’t either, but we can still ask God to help us see change in one life at a time. Several changed lives can change a church.
- Focus first on a few people. When even a few people get on board with a vision, that added support can encourage and strengthen us. Find a core of people who are ready to move forward, and work with them. They’ll help spread the fire.
- Make sure you’re doing personal evangelism. Our own lack of outward focus is one reason our churches turn inwardly. If you’re not in your community telling others about Jesus, your church won’t do it either. On the other hand, simply doing evangelism has a way of re-igniting our fire for the gospel and the church.
- Look for easy wins to strengthen your church. That may be as simple as enlisting greeters at the doors or changing the way you welcome guests in the service (that is, you don’t embarrass them!). Sometimes, we see the big picture needs of the church but miss the little things that will move the church in the right direction.
Start somewhere, and praise God for every victory He grants you!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions.This post first appeared at www.chucklawless.com.