Incredible changes have taken place in the past hundred years. We are experiencing more change than ever in history. The rate of change is so great that we barely catch our breath before another blast of change slams into us. The starting point for unfreezing a stuck church is the development of a solid community of faith that includes spiritual leaders, the absence of major conflict, trust in one another, and a desire to connect with the un-churched world.
Everything we are acquainted with is changing. If you are sensing you might be facing a little stuckness in your church, perhaps some of these following ideas might help you:
1. Realize you are trapped in a habitual routine. Become aware of what you have tried in the past that has not worked. Become willing to let go of what has not worked while honoring previous attempts. My testimony is often as a church planter and then a revitalization restart leader, I would take three steps forward and two steps back at times. But I was still gaining one forward step even in those times where we were breaking with routine.
2. Become more open to other points of view. Focus on the solution not the problem. Iron sharpens iron so allow others to assist you with big ideas that might help the revitalizing church to continue to advance. Remember that even your lay leaders have a vital stake in the renewing churches continual growth. Often they are closer to a possible solution due to less of the responsibility for leadership being on their platter. While you are up to your ears leading they often can step back and think about those things that might bring further growth to the church in need of revitalization.
3. Examine your daily thinking and how it has or has not served you. Realize there is a choice of which path or action to take. Sometimes revitalization leaders just need to readjust their strategy a little as they move forward from the various phases of growth in the renewal effort. I personally often reflect why the Lord would not allow me to do the same thing in one church that I had just done in another. God is about the new and often the old has passed by and He desires to create something so new in you and your church that you need to let go of the old thinking that has not worked or is no longer working.
4. Assess your next steps for change. Ask the question: am I doing these things out of preference, practice, pattern or panic? Many a church planter and pastor have said to me, “I do what I do!” and then wonder why it is getting harder to see growth and advancement. That is a preference! Others just keep on trying an idea and keep driving it hoping that practice will eventually make it perfect. It often does not! Still I see all over the country revitalization pastors who get locked into a predetermined pattern and just cannot see a way out to do something else. Finally, renewal leaders can get so fearful of the lack of growth or advancement that they just panic and try to settle into a comfortable maintenance mentality. Assessing your next steps will greatly help you and your work of church renewal. As you are doing so, be sure to check your ideas out with others.
5. Understand that if you make a blunder, recognize it is all part of the journey. See what your part of any blunder is and apologize where and when necessary. Good church revitalization leaders are not free from mistakes so don’t try to be perfect. When you do make a blunder as the solitary leader acknowledge it, learn from it, and seek to discover the life lesson in it. Many times in my ministry I have done a dumb thing that was not well thought out (I could lead a conference on the dumb things church renewal leaders do and never use anybody else’s ideas)! What I have learned from it though is if you are transparent enough as a Revitalization Leader to admit your mistakes and your people sense it is a heartfelt confession, they will indeed forgive you and even respect you much more because many pastors and planter just cannot admit when they make a mistake! If you take risks as a church renewal pastor during times of needed change sometimes things will not work out the way you had envisioned they would and a strong renewal leader acknowledges it and then moves on. Blunders are sometimes part of the journey so don’t beat yourself up over them. Also don’t expel these blunders as not important to the fellowship so make the apology and reconnect with your membership before it is too late! If you wait too long to do this by the time you realize you need to do this it will be too late and your apology will ring hollow and your leadership as a church revitalization leader will become in question.
6. Appraise your revitalization plans by whether they fit your beliefs and core values. Then act accordingly. What are core values? They often are unwritten statements that guide who we are and what we do. They inspire our words and actions. Gerald Colbert reminds us: “they are convictions about how a church operates not doctrinal statements about what it believes. They are the foundation for developing relationships, church systems, ministries, and strategies. They are the four to seven key statements that distinguish a church.” Remember what core values do? They clarify expectations. They clarify roles and relationships. Core values offer a compass for strategic planning. They help in sharpening your churches mission statement. Take a minute and consider are your beliefs and core values reflective of the beliefs and values of Jesus? Ask yourself how do these beliefs and values reflect God’s Word?
Revitalization transformation is difficult—if it weren’t you would already be doing it. That is why we need support and guidance along the way as we prayerfully seek to revitalize the local church.