There are elements and ingredients, which are essential to the turning around of any church. This list can appear to be endless, since each situation is to some degree unique and unlike even a neighbor’s church. What bind these elements all together is the presence of the Holy Spirit and an openness of the people to the working of God's Spirit.
Here are some common elements most critical for church renewal:
A Pastoral Love for His People
The role of the turnaround pastor is to be so committed to the people that they recognize his unconventional determination to be one of them, not simply a rescue expert. For a church to turn around the must not be allowed to develop a pastor-of-the-week syndrome. The pastor must be able to make an honest and convincing commitment to see the congregation through to the end, whether in success or failure.
Select a New Pastor.
In the vast majority of cases, the former pastor is too associated with and injured by the decline to be able to reverse it. A new pastor is usually necessary to create the climate and the plans for a successful resurrection of the congregation.
Release the Past.
It almost goes without saying that to survive and thrive, a congregation must focus on the future rather than relive the past. But this is easier said than done. It requires a new or renewed vision. This is another reason why a new pastor is often necessary. You must honor the past but not live in the past and new pastors can make an easier transition towards that outcome then those who have been there for a long time.
To reverse a decline caused in part by an inward focus of ministry, congregations must intentionally define what outreach the church will emphasize.
Equip the Congregation.
Intentional outreach will fail to renew a congregation if done only by the only the pastor and staff. Therefore, the laity must be trained for effective, targeted ministry. If the laity will not embrace their part of outreach the church is in danger of closure even before the revitalization efforts get launched.
Select a Strong Leader.
Declining congregations that hired chaplains, caretakers, healers, managers, administrators, or consensus builders fail to gain ground. The most critical skill of the revitalization leader is to help the congregation establish a new vision to which all can commit.
The pastor and everyone else in the congregation must commit to working hard. This is not to say that Spirit has no role, but that much effort is required to overcome the downward inertia.
There Must Be a Prayer Covering.
If people don't commit themselves to prayer, they will not catch the vision.
You Must Preach Quality Sermons, Not Bible Studies.
Sermons need not be excellent, but they need to be more relevant and inspired than what they are likely to have been hearing during the later part of their decline.
Seek An Outside Perspective.
Access to objective, outside opinion is critical.
A Committed Core Group.
As well as a pastor willing to stay no matter what, there must be a core group of lay people with the same commitment.
These are elements and ingredients, which are essential to the turning around of any church. While you might be able to eliminate one or two of them, usually the ones most often sought to be eliminated are those, which take the most work out of the laity. When those are eliminated there is little chance for a church to grow when the laity abandons the work of the ministry.
Posted on Wed, May 27, 2015
by Dr. Tom Cheyney