In my ongoing reading and research of church revitalization and church turn around, there are five ideas that I keep bumping into.
- Be committed to regular, ongoing prayer. First off, church revitalization or health is God’s work. It is a spiritual exercise more than it’s a programmatic series of steps. We need to pray for wisdom and discernment. We need to listen for God’s voice and respond to His leading. We need to pray for courage to act and change. We need to pray for ongoing unity as we work together. We need to pray as individuals and we need to pray together. If we aren’t committed to this, we don’t need the other things on this list.
- Remember this is a team sport. The work of building a healthy church is not one person’s responsibility. It will take a team of people – thinkers, dreamers, prayers, organizers, evangelists, equippers, givers and…you get the idea. We all need to live out the roll God has created for us in His church.
- Be patient. Turning around a church or taking steps towards robust health is not a quick fix operation. We need to be committed to working diligently over the long haul. The good news is, as we follow God there will be lots to celebrate along the way. But we need to hang in there with Him and with each other.
- Be open to change. There is a good chance something will need to change – and it may be us. So we need to be ready to say yes to where God leads which could be uncomfortable. It might mean letting go of our preferences and it might feel a little bumpy. There might even be some mistakes as we try new things. All of that is ok. But we have to be ready. And we have to ask God for patience and grace to deal with critics.
- Consider others. Building on the previous point, we need to make sure there is an outward orientation at the heart of this process which might be uncomfortable at first. But this can’t be just about “us” and what we like or what makes us comfortable. We need to consider “the other” in all the plans that we make.
These are not “5 easy steps” to a healthy church but they are five attitudes that matter. God help us cultivate these attitudes in a way that honors You as we follow You in building Your church.
Director of Church Health, the Free Methodist Church in Canada