It can be hard to determine what to focus on in a church revitalization effort. What deserves your focus? What should be the priority? Where should I devote my energy? While there can certainly be many possible answers, here are nine things that should at least be considered as an early priority in your pursuit of church revitalization.
Church revitalization is more than just making changes; it is a spiritual battle. Satan wants our churches to struggle. Because of the nature of the battle, prayer is essential. Pray often. Pray fervently. Pray boldly.
Emphasize the Importance of Preaching
Build your ministry on the preaching of God’s Word. I’m a huge proponent of expositional preaching, but whether you preach through a book of the Bible or jump from passage to passage, let your people know that you are committed to making the point of the text the point of the message. God will honor and use this.
Disciple Like-Minded Members
Making changes in a church requires the agreement of more than just you and your wife. Find a few men in your church who understand where the church needs to go. There will be challenges and opposition in a church revitalization effort. However, a group of men who are on the same page, growing spiritually together, and praying for each other will be able to withstand the storms that will come.
Identify Your Ministry Vision and Philosophy
Doctrine dictates vision. Vision dictates philosophy. Philosophy will drive decision-making. Decision-making drives change. When we try to make changes without first identifying and communicating our vision and philosophy, our decisions are in danger of not fitting into the larger picture. Every decision is like a tugboat that is tied to a stranded ship. Unless all the tugboats pull in the same direction, the ship will not move. Make sure every decision is connected to your vision and philosophy and pulls in the same direction.
Focus on Clarity
People will always resist what they don’t understand. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you communicate it poorly, it will not be well-received.
Get to Know Your People
People will not follow someone they do not trust, and they will not trust someone they do not know. Spend time with your congregation, pray with them, and understand how best to minister to them. View making changes in your church as part of the discipleship process.
It is hard to revitalize a church when you are spiritually, physically, and emotionally struggling. I will write more on this in another post but take care of yourself. Only a revitalized pastor can lead in revitalizing a church.
Build a Network of Pastors
You will need the encouragement, support, and ideas that come from being around other pastors. Not only do you need to receive it, but there will also be opportunities for you to offer it.
Seek to Simplify Your Ministry
Most churches are attempting to do too much. Their calendars are too full, and the people are overworked. Ministry activity does not always equal ministry effectiveness. Unfortunately, many of our families have become the casualty of a hectic church calendar. I know there are things that you want to start doing but resist the urge to start doing new things until you can stop doing some of the other stuff. Simplifying your church calendar will serve you well in the future.
Focusing on these items will propel your church revitalization effort forward. They will not eliminate the struggles that will come, but they will help provide a solid foundation on which to build.