I think if the truth be told, church board meetings are not the most spiritual encouragement that a pastor or board member will sit through in their church life. Some may even rank it up there with a visit to the dentist. That may be the way that some look at them but that is not the way it should be. Board and leadership meetings should be times of encouragement and empowering our leadership team instead of dreaded obligations that must be endured. Many churches that are in need of revitalization need to be looking at those meetings and start having conversations that look to further the Kingdom of God rather than maintaining a course of status-quo and complacency.
Having a open discussion with the church board and ministry leadership is a must. There has to be transparency and honesty in the discussion. Conversations looking at not only where we have been (reminiscing on days gone by), but where we are now in our church life cycle and where we see that God intends for us to be going ahead.
As I have discussed in other articles, it is essential that everyone in the local church understands who they are as individuals and as a church congregation in the Kingdom of God. So many times, church bodies operate without understanding who they are. Meaning they have a mistaken identity of themselves which ultimately results in lost purpose for existing in the first place. We cannot work and be effective for the Kingdom if we do not understand who we are.
In the church that I pastor, I set some special meeting aside to go over some of the things I thought we as a church need to do, and that was understand who we are and why we do the things we do. In this 3 part article we will walk through some of the intentional and purposeful steps we took and some of the results.
In this first part, I started off by asking 5 questions to establish the foundation for the discussion and evaluation that followed.
- What are the 3 core values of the church? Denominationally and locally? The purpose of the question was to see who knew what the Nazarene church stood for and in essence proclaimed to be. The silence was awkward and deafening. No one was able to respond because they did not know.
Christian, Holiness and Missional is what being a Nazarene means. We walked through each one with manual in hand giving the scripture that supported each one. You could tell that it made sense. People often ask what is a Nazarene and this tells who you are in the Kingdom work that we pursue. No one had even sit down with them and explained these to them and I wonder has anyone set down with your leaders and done this. Don’t assume they know what you think they should know.
The greater chance is that some or maybe most cannot answer this question if they were asked with your leadership or board. We must create a culture in our church where people understand and can communicate who they are. If anyone is in leadership they should be able to identify with the core beliefs and expound on them for anyone that ask. Revitalization starts with seeing who we are and where we are at so that the plateau and or decline can be corrected.
2. What is the purpose of this church? After going through the steps of the first question, you would think this would be easier, but be careful not to assume everybody knows. There can be a tendency for people to get inward focused on the purpose of the church. Turning their attention to internal ministry and programs that cater to the attenders rather on the commission of Christ in making Christlike disciples of all the nations and not just the church goer (Matthew 28:19-20).
In our meeting we needed to be reminded that the purpose of the church was to not be isolationist but accessible and available to the people that are not in the walls of the church. We needed to remind ourselves that there are broken and hurting all around us that need the salvation of Christ in disparate ways and we are to be the messengers of that “Good News.”
3. How do you feel the church is doing? It seems that everybody has a response to this question. All seem to have a opinion of some aspect of how they think the church is doing. Preferences start exposing themselves here but we need to be reminded that it has to be measured by what the scripture says a church should be doing and not how they like of dislike the worship music, or that the room temperature is too cold to suit them.
Everything should be measured by teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, making disciples of all nations, proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, encourage one another and build one another up, and as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
If your local congregation is not representing these traits then there is a overwhelming possibility that the purpose that is intended for that church is not being fulfilled.
4. How can the church do better? Again this opens the door for every opinion and comment possible. Every one have their view of what could be better for the present state of that congregation. People can have a tendency to point fingers and tell others how things should be run and directed but their are the very ones that also come up the quickest excuse why they aren’t the one leading the charge for change for the better.
When I posed this question to the leaders there were responses like the worship could be more lively and exciting. One must then ask themselves who makes it lively and exciting? It is up to the congregation. The ones in the pews must be responsive to the Holy Spirit stirring in the worship service for the fire to fall. It is hard to have fire on wet damp wood. Have you ever seen people sit there and say “bless me if you can” attitudes?
Acts 20:28 says, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” It is up to each and every member to do there part in the Kingdom.
5. How can you make it better? Here is the rubber meets the road. When you ask the people how can YOU make it better, it quickly quiets the naysayers. 1 Peter 2:5 says “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Doing our part that God has called us into is our reasonable service.
For a church that is in revitalization it is imperative that the pastor, church leaders and Jesus have honest and open conversations to address change challenges and have eyes that are open to the leading of Jesus Christ in His church that we have the privilege to be a part of.
We will continue the conversation in 3 parts for leading in revitalization in your local context.
Pastor Rob Beckett, Shepherdsville Nazarene Church in Shepherdsville KY. “Restoring the “Image of God” to the broken and hurting.”