FIRST-PERSON: Revitalizing your church
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- Revitalizing a church is an ongoing process and experience, beginning with the pastor and continuing with the church. Without pastor revitalization, there will be no church revitalization. Both pastor and church are in need of continual revitalization.
We never arrive. Church revitalization is about the church becoming stronger and healthier. It is about penetrating your community and beyond with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The crisis is real
The vast majority of the 50,000-plus churches and congregations that comprise our Southern Baptist Convention are in need of revitalization. In 2013, LifeWay Research released a graphic that illustrated that no less than 74 percent of our churches are either plateaued or declining.
In many ways, all of our churches are in need of ongoing revitalization. In today's world of endless change, it is inescapable. We have to experience seasons that involve brutal honesty, leading us to re-create our churches and restore the hope that God can use our churches to reach our community.
9 strategic principles for revitalizing your church
1: CATCH the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Catching the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is our ONLY hope for revitalizing ourselves, our church, and influencing our communities. We can never forget that we were once lost and hopeless until we trusted in the reality that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and raised on the third day to give us forgiveness, power and hope.
2: CLARIFY your mission
Our mission must be biblical and communicated in a way that is clear, concise and compelling. For many years, our Cross Church family has operated by this clear missional vision: "Reaching Northwest Arkansas, America, and the world for Jesus Christ." We realize this vision when we are engaged in reaching, baptizing and discipling people of all nations.
3: CONSIDER carefully what your people are saying
I often counsel pastors moving into new churches to create listening sessions with their people. Formulate four to six questions to ask the groups when you meet. Tell the people, "This is your meeting. I am here to listen to you. As I listen to you and ultimately listen to God, God will use all to speak to me in how I need to lead the church." There are seasons in each church when this simple principle needs to be followed strategically.
4: COMPREHEND the context of your community
Communities and cities change continually. Demographic studies need to become an ongoing experience of any pastor and church leader. Never assume you know who is in your community. Demographic shifts may alert you to some challenging demographic realities.
I must see my community as it is, not as it used to be or I choose to imagine it to be. This calls every pastor to act as an ongoing missiologist. If we do not know our community, how can we reach them? From knowing this, we must begin to function as missional strategists in and for our church.
5: CALL upon the people to go with you
After all your prayer and study, there will be a time when the pastor must call upon the people to go with him on this revitalization journey. At this moment, call upon the people to rise up together to reach your community like never before. Going hand-in-hand together is imperative.
6: COMMIT to hear God's voice and do whatever He says
The pastor and the people need to experience a powerful spiritual moment of absolute surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. A strong commitment needs to be made to hear God's voice through Scripture as led by the Spirit, and do whatever He says to do. This is why prayer needs to become a priority in the entire revitalization journey.
7: CAST your vision continually and effectively
Whatever vision God has given you for your church, find at least a hundred ways to communicate it. This casting of the vision goes on and on. Preach it, teach it, talk it, pray for it, and equip others to see it come into reality. Cast the vision clearly, creatively and continually everywhere you go.
8: CREATE momentum with wins
Nothing creates momentum like winning. Revitalization begins with a few small wins that lead to bigger wins. Start where you are, identify some easier wins, accomplish them, celebrate them, and go forward from there to more dynamic and impacting influence on your community.
9: CHALLENGE your church passionately and continually
We must challenge our church passionately and continually. Passionless preachers and church leaders result in passionless churches. Distracted pastors and church leaders result in distracted churches. We must be highly engaged as leaders, overflowing with genuine passion, so we can stand up and challenge our people passionately and continually.
"Lord, we pray that You will revitalize pastors and churches so that we will become more effective evangelistically and in making disciples of all the nations. We know it is Your will and stand upon Your Word in Acts 16:5, believing it can be done."
Acts 16:5: "So the churches were strengthened in the faith and were increased in number daily."