Things Every Church Revitalizer Should Do in the New Year! Part III

Become Impassioned Pioneers of New Possibilities

Church Revitalizers must become impassioned pioneers of new possibilities. One needs to release their passionate quest of excellence in order to challenge the status quo and seize previously unseen ministry opportunities to build sustainable momentum within the ministry area. Impassioned revitalizers are the real explorers of new potentials and possibilities. The impassioned pioneer of new possibilities is more often able to outperform those who are just trying to get it done, but lack the zeal of the other leader. Your leadership as a Church Revitalizer is more about standing for something and transitioning your beliefs into action, and then taking it all the way through to the completed and envisioned end. When pastors are not exploring and pressing forward, they are playing it safe and can over time become complacent in their role as the shepherd. I have discovered that you will learn more from a pastor that explores than from one who merely floats along. When a renewal pastor explores, they challenge everyone on the church’s leadership team to get out of their comfort zones and step up their games.

Create a Moment-in-Time with as Many Church Members as Possible

Your presence with your flock is so vitally important and wise Church Revitalizers develop the ability to create individual moments with church members that express your interest in them. The more your church grows the better you will need to be at this ability. Your interest in them even for the moment in time often will ignite their interest in you and your cause of revitalization. Moments-in-time are mastered over time. This ability and presence requires self-trust, confidence, self-awareness and the ability to navigate the needs of other people. When you are with others your time is focused on them and not on the next thing. Creating a moment-in-time with as many church members as possible requires becoming a good listener and the ability to quickly connect the individuals patterns of conversation in order to detect one’s personal interests, leadership style and personal needs. Moments-in-time are not about you. but all about others. These moments-in-time are about having impactful, long-lasting moments with members and prospects that inspires others to want to know more.

Create a “User-Friendly” Ministry Environment

There are many barriers that obstruct an unchurched person from hearing and receiving the gospel message. Many of these are due to negative perceptions; others are spiritual issues of the heart. Here are four barriers that an unchurched person must cross to become a Christian:

The Image Barrier—Many perceive church as being irrelevant, boring, judgmental, and disingenuous.

The Cultural Barrier—For the unchurched, church culture can sometimes be as scary as it would be for some of us if we walked into a biker bar at 1 a.m. on Saturday night. Culture affects terminology/language, musical preferences, dress code, social traditions, and so forth. Some who are unchurched may not relate to church culture and may quickly decide that church is not for them.

The Gospel Barrier—The Holy Spirit must convict them of their sin, so that they repent and confess faith in the resurrected Christ.

The Total Commitment Barrier—Accepting that a commitment to Christ is a lordship decision involving total commitment and surrender to God.

Although many churches say that they care about reaching the unchurched or lost in their communities, they are hindered by inwardly focused ministry practices, which serve as barriers to reaching the unchurched. Everything from signage, service flow, dress code, and musical style is determined based on the needs of those who are already members. Members normally are familiar with the church facilities and ministries (so they don’t need greeters or good signage), have established strong relationships with other members, and are comfortable with the current culture of the church. New families often find the church experience to be uncomfortable, awkward, and confusing. They ask themselves, “Where do I go? Where do I take my kids? What do I wear? Will they ask me to pray?” They enter the church doors with hearts racing and sweaty palms hoping to find someone, anyone with whom they can identify. When creating a “user-friendly” environment, remember to remove the barriers that may hinder a person from hearing and responding to the gospel.

Many times, people are not willing to give church a try. The barriers, for them, are too large to maneuver, people within a church have hurt them, or they do not see the relevance in attending a church service. So why not go to them? Jesus did it—and so should we. Try volunteering for community events, coaching Little League, or taking a part-time job at Starbucks. Invest in relationships with people in the community, and show them that your love is genuine and unconditional.

Become Less Isolated and Be More Integrated with Your Volunteers

Church Revitalizers work towards increasing collaboration with volunteers. Successful revitalizers know that their success is highly dependent upon collaboration with others. They know they must always improve their ability to mentor, inspire and motivate others. Church renewal and teamwork is recognizing that leadership success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue. Strive to create an environment where everyone has each other’s back. Lack of this ingredient makes the chance for successful revitalization very low. If you as a pastor are a leader who has made the decision to go at it alone, this is often a no-win situation for everyone involved. It is through increased collaboration that church revitalizers get the opportunity to know and engage with their volunteers well enough to detect and enable their talent potential.

Investigate the Internet and Social Media

The latest study indicates the average American family watches TV and surfs the Internet an average of 10 hours each day. Compared to your time in the pulpit of a couple of hours each week, who has the most influence? Unless pastors and ministry leaders learn the power of the Internet and social media and how to use it effectively, we will continue our churches not so slow slide into extinction. Discuss movies and TV programs with your congregation, and teach them how to properly prioritize the Internet and social media. And think more about your Internet social media outreach where even the smallest church can create an effective Web site. The battle for influence in your congregation’s life has begun, and you had better get into the fight.

Begin Something Highly Significant for Your Personal Ministry

I talk to ministers and pastors all the time. Many share with me of something big they want to do and achieve. I am often compelled to ask of their dream its status only to find that nothing besides a thought has been accomplished. Stop dreaming and start producing. Begin right now the endeavor you have always dreamed of beginning. Tic Tock - stop watching the clock because the clock is ticking, and you are not getting any younger. Some preachers have a book they want to write, but lack the commitment and discipline (yes writing is a discipline) to get moving. How about that ministry you have wanted to create? What is keeping you from accomplishing that dream? Stop dreaming and start doing. There is no better time than now.

Read More Books, Blogs, and Magazines

It is interesting that many younger ministers no longer like to read. Yet for all of us who proclaim the Word of God each week lack of reading often eliminates our ability to see the power of drama. When we become avid readers and life long learners we experience the power of drama in our reading, which often is carried over, into our preaching. Read blogs (you can go to our web site and see ones we think are important) books, and other publications. Novels provide you the ability to utilize narrative in ones preaching. Storytelling is an art which when well learned will compel others to listen closely.

Remember Your Calling

Do you remember why you were called into the ministry? It is so easy to get caught up in advancing technology, paying the bills, preparing sermons, and the daily grind, we often forget the reason we were called into the ministry in the first place. Chances are you had a dream and calling back then. Was that vision ever accomplished? Cut through the clutter, and get back to the heart and soul of why you do this for a living.The most precious asset you have right now is not money or even knowledge, it is time. Time is the currency of the most successful people in the world, and you can always identify influential leaders by how they value their time. As a church revitalizer use this coming year to reconsider your priorities, cut away the litter, and get back to the heart of your ministry.

Wrapping It Up!

Our communities are filled with people who have a need in their lives that only Jesus can fill. Deep down, most people want to connect with their heavenly Father, be forgiven for their sins, and they desire the same for their children. The stakes are high, and the need is urgent. As you plan for 2014, prayerfully consider how you can reposition your church for greater impact for loving and reaching your community for Christ. As you head into the New Year, you should have great anticipations for your fellow ministry leaders and play a more active role in holding them accountable to step-up their game. As a church revitalizer, do not wait for your ministry leaders influence your future more than you may know and you do not want to be the one that regrets not doing anything about it in the long run. You will never have another chance to relive this year, so let us invest this year in what could potentially change the world for the cause of Christ Jesus.

Dr. Tom Cheyney GOBAYou 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 tcheyney@goba.org.

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