Legendary football coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant said, "Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you'll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don't have a plan. That's why it's is easy to beat most folks." In a recent survey it was revealed that 79% of churches have little to no plans for fall outreach. This may be the reason why 85-90% of the churches in America are either plateaued or declining. Designing, executing and implementing outreach plans and strategies is one of the skills pastors need to create positive momentum in their churches renewal efforts.
Here are a couple insights that you can apply in planning your church revitalization strategies:
1. Develop a church revitalization assistance team.
Too many church revitalizers try to carry the burden all by themselves, which is an unbiblical notion. Church revitalization is a team activity. Team building is one of the skills successful church revitalizers need in their tool belts. Learning to pick the right individuals on your church revitalization assistance team is essential. Guiding and leading the CRAT is imperative. Trusting the CRAT to implement the plan is empowering. Celebrating and encouraging the CRAT is imperative. I encourage church revitalizers to use short-term task groups with a specific task along with a starting and ending point. If you build a group for each of your major church revitalization initiatives your team building skills would improve each time. Team building is a skill which is honed through the "learning by doing" process.
Remember in your church revitalization journey that getting key influencers involved in the renewal process is key to building positive momentum.
2. Develop a revitalization time line utilizing the rule of the ninety day push.
To develop a good time line, start with the last date of the project and work backwards. This is what I call the "rule of the ninety day push" which is to begin the detailed planning process at least three months before launch of the renewal effort. Most churches working in renewal can assume only three pushes a year with each one taking ninety days to accomplish. Then there is a much needed time of rest for thirty days before you begin the next ninety day charge.
3. The CRAT should brainstorm ideas for delivering strong biblical content that addresses the heart language issues of your mission field.
Many church revitalizers struggle with the creative aspects of leading revitalization. I suggest that church revitalizers research and purchase many of the good church revitalization tools available. Many of these come with time lines, job descriptions, graphics, sermon ideas and small group materials. The key is planning ahead. After the church has done a few of these campaigns, then they can take a shot at developing their own.
4. Raise the spiritual temperature of the church renewal efforts.
It is a must to incorporate a church wide prayer project for before and during the church revitalization effort. One example: Call the church to "pray for five neighbors, for five minutes a day, for five weeks" before the church revitalization effort. Another idea would be to mobilize the church to prayer walk your whole community before the church revitalization effort. You could also call the church to a season of prayer and fasting.
5. The CRAT should brainstorm ideas for creating buzz throughout the church and throughout the community.
Work with your Church Revitalization Assistance Team in thinking of ways to get the word out about your efforts towards renewal.
6. Drive the church revitalization theme throughout the church.
Creating a sense of synergy throughout the church during renewal is important. Getting every section of the church moving in the same direction during church revitalization effort is a momentum building experience that creates positive energy and good morale. So take your revitalization theme and drive it throughout the church from the silver haired seniors to energetic youth, from your innovating singles to your toddlers!
7. Develop church revitalization comeback events.
Creating opportunities for new guests to connect relationally, as well as spiritually, is crucial to having a successful church revitalization journey. Planning some type of family friendly event is a great way to get people involved in serving for the first time and connecting relationally with others in the church. Offering entry level bible studies within weeks of your special events is important in providing those next steps for those that are spiritually interested. Finally, you want to offer people an opportunity to connect with the church and its leadership by offering some type of newcomer’s luncheon or party at the church revitalizers event where they hear the story and vision of the church and it renewal strategy as well as connect relationally with key leaders. This is also a great time to offer those who have distanced themselves from the church the opportunity to return to the church. Creating some comeback activities is a good way to re-involve past members and participants with a vigorous new vision for the future.
8. Recruit volunteers to fill needed ministry roles.
Doing special events targeted towards church renewal and evangelism is a great chance to recruit new volunteers for various tasks in the renewal effort. Utilizing a new group of workers must be focused around what you are doing in revitalization and not on the continual undergirding of dying programs. A great idea is to develop new small groups and discover home hosts for these new groups.
9. Drive your newly develop missional values deeper into the changing culture of your church during the church revitalization efforts.
Remember, anytime you create a church revitalization event it is an opportunity to drive your newly developed missional vision and values deeper into the lives of new and existing church participants. The values of evangelism, community, spiritual dependence and community transformation come alive during the church revitalization journey and provide opportunities for personal growth and corporate spiritual maturity.
Remember the Muscle of Momentum.
It takes a great deal of energy to get a yacht moving across the water, but once it gets going its nearly unstoppable! That is the muscle of momentum in church revitalization. The little play craft was able to get moving more quickly but the larger yacht is able to stand up to the rough seas while the smaller craft is thrown about by turbulence. Momentum helps you with assimilating new people into the life of renewal work. Momentum allows you to grow past levels that might otherwise stall your revitalization efforts. Momentum helps you create more momentum. Momentum is that little extra that allows a revitalizing church to keep its focus on what is worthy and right for this hour without sinking at the most crucial time just at the beginning of the race. Church Revitalizers need to learn to harness the muscles of momentum and discover that they will greatly assist your revitalization in moving across the starting line of growing a revived church with Gods leading.
Keep the wind in your Sails and press on!
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. 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.