Church revitalization is a renewal of the church’s health. It’s a revival of spiritual vitality. And even with all your best efforts, you must admit that it’s a work of God. Leading a church toward revitalization isn’t an easy task. There are many books and ideas that are biblically sound and helpful. But they can’t guarantee success. So, how can church leaders work with God in revitalization? What’s missing? Often it boils down to the hearts of the leaders themselves. What can you do as a pastor or church leader to work with God in the revitalization process of your church?
Be Spiritually Self Aware
It’s imperative as a church leader that you stay spiritually self-aware. It’s easy to be preoccupied with your public ministry and overlook your own personal walk with Christ. Keeping a close watch on your motives and attitudes is crucial. Avoid the natural tendency to study only when preparing for teaching or preaching. Don’t mistake a well-executed methodology or your oratory skills for spirituality. Those who are gifted in public speaking, people skills and administrational abilities can fall into this error. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish natural ability from spirituality even in yourself. Keep a close eye on your heart. Work on personal spiritual growth. Do regular maintenance on your walk with Christ by developing a disciplined devotional life.
Rely On the Holy Spirit
God is sovereign. Yet He has chosen to use people, means and methods to carry out the work of the Gospel. All our efforts will be ineffective and fruitless without relying on the Holy Spirit. God is not obligated to revitalize a church on the basis of methods or programs alone. Church revitalization occurs because of the blessing of the Holy Spirit. It is not a result of our own efforts alone.[Tweet “God is not obligated to revitalize a church on the basis of methods or programs alone. “]
Develop a Clear Vision
Church revitalization must begin at the foundation. One of the first steps is in developing a Scriptural ecclesiology and practice for your church. What biblical values does the church have? What are the essentials? What is nonnegotiable? Ask yourself and your other leaders “What does God want for this church?” What is it that God wants to see happen here? Develop a vision of what God desires for the church. Write these things down and analyze them in the light of Scripture. Pray over them. Talk with other leaders in your church specifically about them. Make sure this is the direction God wants the church to go. Map out a course of action and begin communicating this to your church. Then, start implementing these things using wisdom, patience and courage.
Build Your People
As a church leader don’t use people as stepping stones to success. Build your people, they will grow the church. Too often leaders expect everyone to get onboard. Face it some never will. But, that shouldn’t deter the church in the work of revitalization. Waiting for everyone to line up before you begin, is like waiting on all the lights to turn green before you’ll start out on a vacation. It’s not going to happen. Be patient with your naysayers, they may become your strongest supporters later on. Lead from the front, but not too far ahead. Give those who are slower to adopt your vision time to catch up. Build your people not just your ministry.
In revitalizing a church there is always the danger of making too many compromises. Remember, the end does not always justify the means. Don’t let the desire for numerical growth eclipse your biblical perspective. Don’t compromise essential doctrines and adopt unbiblical practices just to see your churches grow. While you need wisdom on how to reach the culture, you don’t have to become like it to do so. Keep in mind that the church has always been counter-cultural. It has a different King and represents a different kingdom.