“The church needs less finger pointing and blaming and more prayer and anointing.”
We will continue the discussion on the 3 part article that we must have with the church leadership in order for our churches to experience and live revitalization. The first part of the article we looked at the necessity for the pastor, board, and Jesus to be evolved in open and honest conversations about the state of their local church. The need for understanding who they are in the Body of Christ, what their purpose was, how the church was in health terms, and how the church could be more effective corporately and personally. These conversations can be uncomfortable but essential for revitalization.
So later in that same board meeting I shifted the focus of the conversation to them personally. It is easy to stand above others and to bark out directions for the church as a whole and even criticize the work being done or not done, but we must look at ourselves and see that we are the ones that must lead with example. How can we expect a congregation to do certain things if the leaders of the church are not doing them themselves. I remined the board members what Paul instructed us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test and evaluate yourselves to see whether you are in the faith and living your lives as [committed] believers. Examine yourselves [not me]! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves [by an ongoing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test and are rejected as counterfeit?” (AMP).
So we had a little examination to test how effectively we were leading the church. I started by asking some simple but poignant questions of the leaders of the church;
- Can you name 3 active ministries in the church? At the time of this board meeting there were 9 active ministries operating in the church. Everything from prayer groups, children ministries to food distribution. I went around the room to the 5 present board members and asked them one at a time to name three, and with not much surprise most could name 1 and only two people was able to name 2. This was not done to embarrass anyone but to bring home a very important point, that they state that they wanted to see the church grow and flourish but yet they don’t know how the church is growing and flourishing, without them even knowing what is going on right before them.
Honest conversations require honest appraisals. This was a obvious case of too many chiefs but not enough Indians. A church that is initiating and moving forward in revitalization must have leadership that is aware and invested in each and every ministry of the church. This is not to say that they need to be involved in everything, but be keenly aware of the impact and work that is being done in those ministries.
2. Who has attended or participated in a ministry other than regular scheduled services? This was a natural follow-up to the question before of what ministries they could name. Its one thing to name ministry but are you involved in any with real equity invested in it. You know the saying goes that “where you put your time and money is where your heart is.” Jesus said in Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” This applies to what we spend our time doing also.
It is imperative, in revitalization, that the leadership also be involved in some of the ministry happening in the church more than just showing up for services. Not only does it help to build up and encourage the other workers but it helps to strengthen the leaders own spiritual health doing Jesus work along side others. The Christian walk, especially Christian leadership, is participation oriented. Jesus said “take up your cross”, “go out into the fields” and “give a cup of water.” Leaders are to be the examples of Jesus’ hands and feet to others.
3. Where is your support considering prayer, finances, time, or encouragement? Not every leader can do everything in the church and they are not asked or implied that they should but it should be expected of leadership to support every ministry with the resources they need to accomplish the commission of Christ. The leadership of a church in revitalization must have a open dialog with workers of the ministries so that the leaders provide every possible support through prayer on a continual “non-ceasing” commitment. Providing finances from board budget decisions but from their own support when special offerings taken and fund-raisers are promoted. Giving time to workers and for service is essential. and finally the most important is encouragement to ministry workers, letting them know what they do is all for the Kingdom and it does not go unnoticed.
4. How many people did you intentionally call or talk to that you invited to church outside your home? In the first part of the board meeting everyone expressed the desire to see our church grow and have more families in it, but I asked them how they were involved in making that a reality? How many did they talk to and asked to come to church with them this week, this month, or even this year? There was a silence of too long a span. Outside of their homes, they could not tell me of anyone they had talked to, let alone witness to, about church. A church that is experiencing true revitalization is telling everyone about what God is doing in their church. I will say that a church being revived and renewed by God cant help but be compelled to tell of what He is doing and they want everybody to know about it.
Every church that is experiencing revitalization are the “talk of the town” because people are seeing what is going on and can see the fire in the people involved. We must be a people that “Go and Tell” what God is doing among His people.
5. Name someone new that has started to attend in the last 6 months? This question, if I must be honest, broke my heart and disturbed me the most. We have had the honor of have new people come to our church since God has been revitalizing our church, but I started noticing a disturbing trend occurring. I noticed that even though our people considered themselves a “loving church”, there were people coming and not nearly enough people were engaging and talking with them.
Most would say that yes a couple new couples had come but other and a first name they did not know there last names, where they came from, where they lived, what they do, or anything else for that matter. This exposed the fact that they were loving to the people they knew but stayed distant from newcomers and disinterested in bringing new folks into the fold. Closing ranks and circling the wagons is what helped get the church to where it needed revitalization. That culture must stop.
And then finally, I asked one last question concerning our personal involvement in the ministry of the church:
6. When was the last time you walked up to someone and thanked them for what they do in the church? As the leadership of a revitalizing church the leaders must show that they have genuine concern for the people of the church and not just being a commodity. Everyone needs encouragement. This is why Paul always told the churches that he wrote letters to, always be encouraging and edifying the body of Christ so that the work can continue in a healthy, loving environment.
Leaders, let people know that you do appreciate everything they do for the Kingdom, and that without their work and commitment, that your church would be not as effective in ministry.
We must have honest conversations to be everything that the Head of the church expects us to be. They can be done with gentleness and kindness but honest. Revitalization of a church starts with the revitalization of ourselves. In part 3 we will look at ourselves in this honest conversation.
Rob Beckett is pastor at Shepherdsville Nazarene Church in Shepherdsville KY “Restoring the ‘Image of God’ to the broken and hurting”