It’s tough work to lead a church in revitalization. In fact, it’s hard enough that some leaders aren’t cut out to do it. Knowing, though, why it’s hard can help us press on through the tough moments. Here are some reasons why revitalization is difficult:
- The process usually starts years after the church has been in decline. That is, leaders are trying to turn around a ship that’s been floating aimlessly in the wrong direction for a long time. The ship might even seem to be sinking already.
- The issues are often numerous, and they can be overwhelming. At a minimum, the vast number of issues to address makes it difficult to know where to begin. Hopelessness can quickly take control of a revitalization leader.
- Many leaders in revitalization settings have little training in this task. They’re serving where the Lord has placed them, but they struggle to develop strategies and plans for revitalization. That’s one of the reasons Church Answers exists, in fact: “to help churches move from flatlined to flourishing through coaching, online courses, daily content, and much more.”
- Many of the remaining attendees have often lost their energy. They themselves need personal revitalization, and church revitalization won’t happen without it. Leading weary people is never easy.
- Some of the leaders think they’ve “tried everything already.” No matter what ideas you bring up, they remember when they tried something similar and failed. Even if that attempt took place decades ago, they still remember it.
- Congregations often want revitalization, but without change. They want to see increased numbers and dollars – so they talk the language of revitalization – but they don’t want anything to change in the process.
- Revitalization leaders tend to lead from a hopeful vision with a sense of urgency—but the process usually takes a long time. The leader sees seemingly obvious needs and necessary solutions, but it takes time to help the congregation see the same things. Patience is important.
- Sometimes, the same lay leaders who led the church into plateau and decline in the first place are still in positions of influence. Change likely means they would lose some of their power—and they didn’t bargain for that when they started talking about revitalization.
- Leaders often have a big-picture vision of what revitalization looks like, and they miss the little changes and growth the Lord produces in their church. Seeing just glimpses of what God’s doing among our congregation ought to encourage us to press on – but we sometimes overlook those glimpses.
What reasons would you add to this list?
Posted on February 16, 2021
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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