An Opportunity for a New Beginning
New things give us an occasion to start over. Wise revitalizers challenge their churches early in the New Year to see a compelling vision of what the church could become if everyone decided and committed to work together for the cause of revitalization and renewal. Could there be some things you as the minister could do better than last year? The New Year provides all of us second chances to do something better. Starting anew with a hope of a new beginning. Clean the slates, start over a few things, and learn from previous mistakes.
I heard about a son who called his parents to wish them a happy New Year. The dad answered the phone was asked, “Well dad, what’s your New Year’s resolution?” He answered proudly, “To make your mother as happy as I can all year”. Then his mom got on the phone and he asked her the same question, “What’s you resolution, Mom?” She replied, “To see that your dad keeps his New Year’s resolution.
Our Lord gives all of us when we enter into a personal relationship with Him a new beginning. Though the passage speaks of the great gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Even those outside of Christ are offered new beginnings and at one time in our lives as believers we were given the greatest gift of salvation through Christ Jesus. But I believe this verse to be an encouragement to all of us as Church Revitalizers of the special blessings we are given through new beginnings.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Our communities all around us are changing and as the Church Revitalizer you can ill afford to grow complacent. We are living in a time of rapid change and only the church, which keeps pace with, its ever-changing cultural environment will advance. As a church revitalizer you must have a sense of urgency to assure that your God given vision stays ahead of the demands of community. Far too many pastors working in churches that need to be revitalized believe that business is equivalent to urgency. Creating a sense of urgency is more about activating volunteers and lay leadership into the cause of revitalization and its tasks. Strategies must move forward. Objectives must be advanced. Methodologies must be always evolving and executed in a timely manner. Simply, Church Revitalizers must begin the New Year keeping themselves and their followers on their toes by training the church to look for God’s unexpected and then act upon His opportunities. You as the leader will have much to learn in the New Year and your people will need to embrace the attitude of daring so your renewal efforts might be accomplished.
Take the Occasion to Set New Goals
Healthy churches and healthy pastors set goals, which will provide barometers for how the church is doing in the new year. Church Revitalizers understand that individual drive and a list of goals are key to the renewal innovation. It was the late great Zig Ziglar that said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” At the beginning of my first calendar year here in Central Florida, I asked my staff to turn in individual goals for the upcoming year for their area of ministry. You would have thought I had tortured them. It was like pulling teeth. I scratched my head in disbelief. Have they never been held accountable for their area of work? Had a laze fare been allowed with no accountability? We work for our network of churches and don’t they deserve goals set and worked towards reaching. Every one working in areas of ministry should set goals for his or her ministry area and then be willing to share them with the rest of the team. I have learned a wonderful lesson, which is that I am (and you are) more likely to accomplish my goals, if I can see other people also working on their individual goals. As a Church Revitalizer, if you have 10 volunteers working in ministry areas, make a goal to get to 20 volunteers. If you are poor with communication, make it a goal to communicate better this New Year. Remember what people are not up on they are usually down on. If you are bad with member follow up and prospect assimilation, make it a goal to make a certain number of visits, send out letters, send emails, and make phone calls this new year each and every week. Set new goals to grow spiritually and professionally.
Carry a Journal Everywhere You Go
I usually have a journal with me where ever I go and if not I have one in my ipad. The reason I journal and write things down is because I am often bombarded with not one good idea but many and if you do not write them down they will be lost. Great ideas often are pushed to the surface by a series of really good ideas but not great ones. Ideas are fragile, and our memory does not always work. So I write them down. Poor writers are seldom journal writers. Jess Moody, former pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach gave me the best advice when I was a young freshman in college at Palm Beach Atlantic University. His advice to an 18-year-old ministerial student was to put aside two hours every week, even while in college, and write. He said, “Write good sermons and bad ones. Write articles and ideas because if you begin to do this while you are young, it will pay off in great dividends as you mature in the work of the ministry!” He was so right. I have discovered in my journaling journey that great ideas come in the strangest places, and if you do not write them down, you will lose the idea that could transform your church or ministry. Learn to write down your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Failure to do so just might cause you to regret it later.
This was made so clear to me when the space shuttle exploded on re-entry that horrible Saturday morning. I had just left my house after having breakfast with my wife and children before driving 310 miles to preach in Savannah, Georgia the next day. My Bible was in the front set along with my sermon notes and my journal, as I was prepared for what I thought was a typical Sunday of preaching. Not ten minutes out of my garage as I was listening to the shuttles landing on the radio, I heard from the reporter of the horrible crash. Journaling my thoughts, over the past year had many things useable to allow the Lord to change my message and provide incredible insight and comfort to those church members I would preach to the next day. For the next five plus hours of driving while listening to the tragic event I was able to add to my journal thoughts from the various reporters and when I arrived at my hotel later that day in a few short hours I was able to develop two timely messages for morning and evening of the following day.
Had I not carried a journal with me everywhere I go, I would not have had the tools and ideas God had given me over the past months to fashion such timely messages.
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 Coaching Network Applicants you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or firstname.lastname@example.org.