Church Revitalization is NEVER going to happen!

never

Yes, you read that right.

Church revitalization is NEVER going to take place on any serious level unless we make the commitment to do the following three things:

 

ADDRESS the problem 

Everybody knows that there is a desperate need for church revitalization. Everybody knows that hundreds of our churches are struggling and many are just weeks, months, or a few years away from closing.

Unfortunately, many seem reluctant to have an honest discussion about the very pressing problems that we face.

Many pastors don’t want to talk about their churches struggles because they are under such stress to be seen as successful, there is fear that such a conversation might reflect negatively on them and their personal ministry.

Many long time church members don’t want to talk about any possible deficiencies in the church because after investing their time, tears, and talents to keep it going for so long, they perceive any such discussion as a personal attack on “their church” and, if the truth be known, an attack on them personally.

Denominationally we are often hesitant to talk about our problems because of the fear of being seen as negative, controversial,  or as “opening a can of worms” that might lead to divisiveness instead of unity in our ranks.

The musicians in the band on the “Titanic” are often lauded as heroes because they chose to stay on board, playing happy and upbeat tunes to calm the passengers as the ship sank.

The music might have given those listening a  sense of peace and security, but it was only temporary: hundreds listening perished – including every single member of the band.

When it comes to church revitalization, the time for pretty music is over. We MUST face the problems at hand, or die.

ACCEPT Responsibility

From the pulpit to the pew, everyone in the church must accept personal responsibility for the problems we face. We must stop talking about “their problems”, and start talking about “our problems”.  We must “own this”.

If things are going to change, someone has to be the change agent.

That somebody must be me, and it must be you.

Individually, none of us can save a denomination, or even a church. But we can do something, and if all of us do our part, something significant and substantial can happen.

If the attitude “somebody else will do it” prevails, make no mistake,  it won’t get done.

This thought is powerfully expressed in a poem entitled “Once upon a Pew”:

Once upon a pew I sat, And heard the preacher ask,
“We need someone to teach a class, Now who will take this task?”

Then God sat down beside me there And said, “Son, that’s for you.”
“But, Lord, to stand before a class Is one thing I can’t do”.

Now Bill would be the man to call, There’s nothing he won’t do.
“I’d rather hear the lesson taught From here upon my pew.”

Once upon a pew I sat And heard the preacher ask,
“We need someone to lead the songs, Now who will take this task?”

Then God sat down beside me there And said, “Son, that’s for you.”
“But Lord, to sing before a crowd Is one thing I can’t do.

Now Brother King will do the job, There’s nothing he won’t do.
“I’d rather hear the music played From here upon my pew.”

Once upon a pew I sat And heard the preacher ask,
“I need someone to keep the door, Now who will take this task?”

Then God sat down beside me there And said,
“Son, that’s for you.”
“But saying things to strangers, Lord, Is one thing I can’t do”

Now Tom can talk to people, Lord, There’s nothing he won’t do.
“I’d rather someone come to me, And greet me on the pew.”

As years just seemed to pass me by, I heard that voice no more.
Until one night I closed my eyes And woke on heaven’s shore.

‘Twas four of us together there To face eternity.
God said,
“I need just three of you To do a job for me.”

O Lord, I cried, “I’ll do the job, There’s nothing I won’t do.”
But Jesus said,
“I’m sorry, Friend, In Heaven there’s no pew.”

 

ACT to change the status quo

A pastor friend of mine recently shared  a childhood event that occurred in his home church when he was a boy.

During the quarterly church business meeting, there was a heated discussion about whether to install a telephone in the church.

A longstanding, influential church board member stood up and passionately spoke against the idea. His argument was that the church had functioned fine for years without a phone, and installing a phone would be bringing worldly distractions into the church house.

This gentleman made such a persuasive case, the idea was voted down in the meeting.

My pastor friend went on to say that just a few weeks later during the Sunday morning service, that same influential church member collapsed in his pew. They would later learn that he had suffered a heart attack.

Medical help was needed immediately, but this was in the days before cell phones existed. Because there was no telephone in the church, folks raced frantically through the neighborhood in a desperate search to find someone at home that would allow them to make a call. It was an extended period of time before medical personnel were able to be summoned to the scene.

The influential church member survived the heart attack, and the installation of a telephone was the first item of business at the next quarterly business meeting.

This time, it passed unanimously.

The moral of the story?

Pain can be a very powerful, motivating force.

We will never have serious church revitalization success until we are willing to step out of our comfort zone, face painful realities, honestly and openly discuss our situation, personally invest ourselves in the process of change,  and then passionately work together to make an eternal difference.

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