There are all types of seminars informing us how to grow a new church. There are a very few designed to assist the church in the area of revitalization and renewal. Often, we attend general feel good conferences hoping that something that is shared will help our churches! It is high time the other side of the issue is considered. While I don’t guarantee these easy-to-apply steps for church revitalization will always keep your local church from advancing and keep growing, they will with proper application, certainly increase the chances for it to either plateau or perhaps even die. In the field of church revitalization and renewal here are some successful ways to keep your church stalled, lacking any real vision, and not growing:
Keep your new constituents from serving on the leadership and ministry organization.
New people want to belong and feel they are contributing towards something they believe in! If you keep them out of your ministry group or leadership group you will watch them come for about six weeks and then quietly disappear in search of something significant that is more inclusive. Put your new people to work. Even a brand new believer can give out a worship guide the following Sunday after his conversion!
Split up your affinity groups regularly.
There was a time when splitting up affinity groups helped a church continue to advance. People today are searching for significant relationships amidst their hectic schedules and churches that are keeping natural affinity groups together today are more successful. For a time it may appear that this is not so, but in a world where we are crunched with schedules finding a set of friends to do life together with is significant. I even know of couples that choose a church who are interested in keeping groups together instead of splitting them up.
Building undersized structures on small acreage.
It hurts your renewal efforts to saddle it with undersized facilities placed on small lots. It may appear logical, but if the church is going to grow, new property might not be available when you are ready to expand. You can always wait later to build a building, but you cannot always buy more acreage. Another challenge is when a new church builds its first phase, build it in the best place on the property. You have just handcuffed future leaders and budgets that will have to discover creative ways (expensive as well) to build around your mistake.
Do not send your Church Revitalizer to Church Revitalization and Church Renewal seminars.
Always try to display generosity towards your church revitalizer as a church renewal leadership group. If you have the resources to send your church revitalizer to a conference or seminar it will not only help your church, but it will encourage him as well. Try to budget at least one training event of his choice each year and pay for his wife to go along as well. Remember to give him a little spending money for purchasing resources so your church will also profit from his experience.
Do not encourage him to read church revitalization and renewal materials.
Give your church revitalizer a book allowance! His reading will aid the work by stretching him personally and advancing your church publically. The more you can afford the better opportunity you will have to watch him lead your work further and with greater affectivity.
Trying to win “every person in your community.”
When you try to win everyone you usually win no one! Churches working on renewal that view the whole population of an area as theirs is not realistic. Revitalizers who assimilate well gather in pockets and fishing pools desiring to catch those with whom there is already an affinity. As God continues to advance the work new opportunities will open up and then you can enlarge your scope.
Do not advertise your work in various media formats.
Most churches working in church revitalization are not known so anything they do to advertise is a plus. Just be careful not to waste funds on formats that bring you no return on investment.
Do not staff for expansion and do not make financial provisions for growth.
Failure to plan for growth is dangerous. While there is a time to add staff and a time to wait, you need to begin planning for additional staff right away. Caution should be given towards not bringing on staff in areas where volunteers can still function. Far too many church revitalizers are looking for a pal when they need a key contributor. While laity are serving in areas where one day a staff member will serve, begin saving towards that first two years of expenses. You will be glad you did and the church will not feel a crunch in services due to being broke.
Act like God does not want the church to grow!
God desires your church to grow. He blesses those churches with a heart for reaching the lost of this world. Healthy revitalizing churches work while there is still time to touch individuals with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let’s think about that fact and begin doing something about it! If you would like to have conversations related to this blog post, why not drop me a line so we can begin your journey and conversation.
You can connect with Dr. Tom Cheyney and the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Coaching Network additionally via Facebook at RENOVATE Conference. Tom is the co-author of Spin-Off Churches (B&H Publishers), a conference speaker and a frequent writer on church planting, new church health, and church revitalization. Tom’s latest book is going to press entitled Ninety Church Revitalization Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Primer Before You Jump Into Church Renewal. Also, be looking for The Biblical Foundations for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney and Terry Rials later this year. If you or your church would like more information about how to be considered for the next series of RENOVATE Church Revitalization Applicants you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or firstname.lastname@example.org.