Church revitalization is not easy—especially when the church isn't yet on board. Here, though, are characteristics of churches I've seen who are ready for the work:
1. The senior leader is committed to the task. When pastors are fully on board—meaning they're prepared to hear whatever they need to hear, do whatever they need to do and stick around through the process—the church is typically ready.
2. The church recognizes its need for revitalization. They may not know the depth of their need, but they recognize they've reached a place of stagnation or division. They don't whitewash their issues.
3. They put in place a revitalization prayer team. From the beginning of the discussions, they cover the process in prayer. They pray for wisdom for strategizing and ears to hear what needs to change.
4. Even when it's difficult, they put their own ideas on the altar. Their thoughts and suggestions may prove right in the long run, but they're willing to lay those aside if needed. They don't worry about protecting their turf when the spread of the gospel is at stake.
5. They involve many people in the process. The more people involved in the process, the more people who buy into the implementation.
6. They're unafraid to look at numbers. Numbers don't tell the whole story of a church's health, but they are indicative of underlying issues. Growth patterns, giving patterns and community demographics do matter.
7. They begin to turn their focus outwardly. They begin to ask, "What do we need to do to reach the people who aren't here?" rather than, "How do we make sure we don't change too much?"
8. They're aware of the risks of not experiencing revitalization. They know they may have been ignoring reality for far too long. They're not afraid to talk in terms of decline and death in their own honest evaluation.
9. They believe in the gospel. Those churches most open to change genuinely believe that people who do not know Jesus personally are destined for eternal judgment. Lostness compels them to ask hard questions and make difficult changes.
10. They have a core group ready to work. They know the work is just beginning, and the tasks will fall on their shoulders. A significant core group is ready to roll up their sleeves and get busy.
If you've worked with similar churches, what characteristics would you add?
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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