When revitalizing a church, your temptation is going to be to do it like the big dogs. You want to be the next Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, Steven Furtick, Craig Groeschel or whoever else is popular at the time. Your church, however, should be different. It should be different because you are different, your members are different, your community is different, and your calling is, therefore, different. I spent years trying to pastor like everyone else, and when I had the circumstances of most people, I realized that’s not what I wanted. I wanted what God was calling me and my church to be. A few weeks ago, I shared an idea with the board at our church, and one of its members literally said, “That doesn’t like you or us.” We must remember that copycats rarely become more successful at their vision than the original things God gives whom He calls.
So how do we find our calling as a church when it is being revitalized?
Go to God!!!! Don’t forget as excitement builds with the church that the reason you’re doing all of this is your Creator. He knows what’s best for your living organism known as ekklesia. He knows what you should do, and wants you to succeed. Spend deep time in prayer by yourself, with your family, and with those closest to you. Schedule it and make it happen when it isn’t scheduled. “Much prayer, much power”
Figure out where you live
What is the community like around your church? Part of the reason churches die is they become so inward focused that they lose any real connection to the people around them. When having guests in your church becomes an awkward thing, and your the people in church don’t know how to act when new people arrive, it may be time for a revitalization. But who lives around you? Is it rural, urban, tundra? Are the people around you used to professionalism or one on one hangouts? It matters. Just as telephone books are not used anymore, choirs, robes, and papered church directories have also become relics of the past. Figure out who you are reaching out to, and create something that connects with people while not watering down the good news of Jesus.
Understand your core
Who are the people you currently are ministering to, and how do they love to minister? Do they love big productions, anthemic worship music, online video equipment, to have quiet one on one conversations? If the people around you are nothing like you, they will probably not be around you in a matter of time. People who help start a church are not always the same people who stay in the church. Carefully take inventory of those who will be with you as your help revitalize your church or group and focus in on helping them grow in Jesus. Don’t just use them as people who can help you launch a church. They are disciples and your desire should be for them to grow up to be followers of Jesus just as much as that person who might step foot in your church who you don’t know (or may never know if the church gets large enough).
What’s in your heart?
Finally, what’s in your heart? What is the style and focus of ministry that burns within you, that you would not e happy if you didn’t make happen. When I first came to my present church, I found the original vision statement. It clearly hadn’t been used since the early 1900’s, but I loved it and brought it back because it had everything that I loved. It was; “Working together (Community) in Christ’s love (Agape) to spread the gospel (Good news!)”. I grabbed on to that statement and though the church was not presently living in that reality, that reality was in my heart, so I went with it. My heart connected with the church history, and we rolled with it!
It’s easy to figure out who other people are, but much more difficult who you are and by extension, who you are not. You are not Andy, Rick, Steve, or Craig, but you are you. And God is calling you to this project! So tell us…who are you?