Pastor, Church Revitalization Begins With You
Church revitalization is a process of restoring vitality and mission to a local congregation. Many of us have been talking about the subject for some time. We don’t need the latest statistics to remind us of the declining worship attendees, finances, or baptisms in our churches. We don’t need more conferences downloading another method or strategy promising to reverse the trend lines of our congregational data. We need leaders willing to take responsibility for their community and set the pace for God’s people to make disciples. Church revitalization begins and ends with pastoral leadership.
Pastor, God has called you to shepherd His people.
Somewhere in your past God has called you to “ministry.” If your call was anything like mine, it wasn’t on your career path or even a possible option for employment. But God had a different plan and he used your circumstances, other people, and his Word to change your trajectory. Go back and revisit that calling. Re-read your journal or ask God to remind you as you read through the qualifications of a pastor/elder again. Let God’s acts of grace refuel your commitment to the local church. Even if she is no longer the well-adorned bride of her youthful days, she still deserves your unconditional love and sacrifice.
Pastor, God has given you a vision for His church.
Your vision may not have come from a burning bush or from a group of men bringing a report about broken down walls and people living in exile, but God has given you a vision for His Church to accomplish God’s mission in your community. The deacons may come up with a plan to attract people to the church or the matriarch may try to devise the “best way” to increase attendance numbers, but that’s not the norm in Biblical narratives. God has entrusted you to lead a gathered body of Christ followers to proclaim the good news of the Gospel using the resources and opportunities available to you. Without God’s vision led by God’s installed leadership, the church will continue to decline.
Pastor, God has given you leaders to equip.
Most pastors in revitalization settings have “inherited” a leadership structure of deacons, committee chairs, teachers, and staff as confirmed by the members of the church, and too many congregations have hired a pastor to do the work of ministry for the Church. Somewhere in between these two inherited realities lie the best balance for church revitalization. Leading from among your current leadership is healthy as you labor together and equip others to utilize their gifts to implement God’s vision. The task won’t be easy. The same God who guided Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, and many other Biblical leaders when they struggled to equip leaders will also guide your efforts to be a leader of leaders.
Pastor, God has surrounded you with other men to disciple and send.
Somewhere in the midst of this entrusted flock, you’ll find great potential for future leadership needing to be discipled and sent. They may not be on the membership role yet, but through your faithful witness and consistent discipleship, they will be transformed by the Spirit of God to lead their family and the church. Every revitalization pastor needs to invest time in other men to develop future leaders. Make it a priority before anything else is added to your calendar to spend time with 3 or 4 other men teaching them to observe all things Christ has commanded. And as you teach them, challenge these men to counter-cultural opportunities for God’s glory – pastoral leadership, church planting, using their business as a mission field, or going to the ends of the earth.
Pastor, God has placed you in a community with neighbors longing for hope.
Your community needs a revitalized church. They are longing for hope and don’t know where to find it. The church sign is no longer an invitation to a satisfied life, but you can lead your members to build relational bridges to the broken and discouraged in your community. When Jesus spoke of the coming Kingdom to a questionable woman at a Samaritan well, she returned home to tell the others, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4). Your community needs to discover the only source of everlasting hope, Jesus Christ.
Pastor, church revitalization begins with you. With an endless list of things to do, there is one thing that cannot be neglected – declaring the hope of the gospel in your community. If you aren’t doing the work of an evangelist, your people won’t share their faith. If you aren’t making disciples, your people won’t share what they have learned about Jesus. And without evangelism and discipleship, the church that called you to lead them as pastor will continue to struggle and decline until it is forced to make end of life decisions.
Pastor now is the time to share hope with your neighbors. Now is the time to disciple and send men on mission for God’s glory. Now is the time to equip your leaders to do the work of the ministry. Now is the time to declare and implement God’s vision for the local church. As the shepherd of God’s flock empowered by the Spirit of God, lead them to live as ambassadors of Christ reconciling men to God until every life is saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How can the Church Strategies Group of the South Carolina Baptist Convention help you lead your church toward a hopeful future? Start a conversation by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org