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Febuary March 2018 Vol 4 Issue 2


“The only magazine dedicated to Church Revitalization.” ~ Tom Cheyney

ENOVATE R National Church Revitalization Conference

Speakers Include: Tom Cheyney Ron Smith Jason Britt Terry Rials Jim Grant Paul Smith Jennifer Bennett Chuck Lawless Walter Jackson Jason Britt Bill Hegedus Drew Cheyney Chris Irving Steve Smith Jason Cooper Rob Myers David Lema

November 6-8, 2018 Orlando, FL (FBC Winter Park)

17 60

National Church Revitalization Speakers 2

Church Revitalization Workshops


Main Sessions By Revitalization Practitioners



Intensive Subjects


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Revitalizer FEATURES

Feb/Mar | Vol 4, No 2


The Church Revitalizer Subscribe to our weekly blog post focused around the revitalization of Churches in North America.


RENOVATE National Church Revitalization Conference


on social media via:

Subscribe to our weekly podcast focused around the revitalization of Churches in North America. To subscribe go to:



Revitalization Podcast


Courage: Practice Makes Perfect! By Chris Irving





The Best Book I Ever Read On Revitalization

Practices for 32 Best Church Revitalization

By Joel R. Breidenbaugh

Revitalization Game Changers By Steve Smith



By Greg Kappas

The Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal By Chad McCarthy


and Renewal



Ten Best Practices in Church Revitalization Efforts By Tom Cheyney

The First Best Practice: Reality Checks



Cross Generational Children’s Ministry By Bill Hegedus

When Ministry Hurts



The Only Numbers You Should Be Counting in Student Ministry By Drew Cheyney




Where Are You? By Tracy W. Jaggers

Best Practices: Take Personal Retreats with God



Three Church Revitalization Myths (And 3 Best Practices to Overcome Them)

Repurposing with Purpose - What We Can Learn from Southwest Airlines


50 Small Groups to the Max Leaders- Finding Them and Keeping Them By Fred Boone

Church Music Renewal (again!)



Don’t Put Off Evangelism: Reach Your Entire City By Mark Weible


Living in Two Worlds By Jim Grant


Reaching Generation X By Kenneth Priest


When People Leave: The Private Pain of The Small Church Pastor


Health for the Harvest By Steve Sells

By Bill Tenny-Brittian By Ron Smith

By Michael Atherton

By Terry Rials

By Darwin Meighan

By Tim Kaufman

“The only magazine dedicated to Church Revitalization.”



Rob Hurtgen is the Pastor of First Baptist Church Chillicothe, Missouri. He holds an M.Div from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree in Church Revitalization from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to Shawn since 1995, and they have five children.

By Bob Whitesel

By Karl Vaters


The Church Revitalizer Book Reviewer: Rob Hurtgen • •

Mike McKinley’, Church Planting is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-Up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things (CrossWay, 2010). Harry Reeder III with David Swavely, From Embers to Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church (P&R Publishing, 2008). 5





Revitalizer Volume 4, No. 2

The Church Revitalizer Is published bi-monthly by Renovate Publishing Group 1906 West Lee Road Orlando, FL 32810 Email:

PUBLISHER Executive Editor Dr. Tom Cheyney Associate Publisher Mark Weible Associate Publisher Circulation & Marketing Tom King Brand Manager Tom Cheyney Magazine Designer & Format Editor Gerald Brown Director of Advertising Renovate Staff Web Ad Traffic Director Mark Weible Digital Media Associate Ashleigh Cheyney For subscription information contact this office at: Subscriptions donations are $30.00 per year for six issues, $52.00 for two years (12 issues). Outside the U.S. add $10.00 per year prepaid.

Stock images from ISTOCK Photo or where otherwise noted. © Copyright 2017 Renovate Publishing Group



By Tom Cheyney

Welcome to the Church Revitalizer Magazine: A Church Revitalization Retreat in Every Issue!

If you ask most pastors what are the best practices for church revitalization you will see a perplexed look upon their face as most have never taken the time to think through this issue. If you are the church revitalization leader and you are not committed to the time necessary to achieve church revitalization and health, then perhaps another member of your church ought to lead the process. Revitalization is a minimal investment of 1000 days. You are going to invest a minimumn of 1000 days into the effort. If you cannot give the Lord that much time to be focused on such an effort than the better practice is to allow someone else to lead the effort. Revitalization must receive priority in the church calendar if it is going to be revitalized. It is my conviction that churches do not change because of committees or resources or even renewal consultants. It is because God brings a leader into the situation and equips that leader to do the job. It is God who chooses to bless the leadership abilities of that revitalization leader! Most churches in need of revitalization, do not grow under the leadership of the “nice” leader! Seldom will it grow when a leader is more interested in cruising along then in leading boldly! A pastor must be open, honest, firm, straight forward, able to confront problems and manage conflict and loving towards everyone. This edition of The Church Revitalizer focuses on The Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal! The April/May edition will focus on Character Qualities of a Church Revitalizer. Stay connected, more is coming.

Dr. Tom Cheyney is the Founder and Directional Leader of Renovate National Church Revitalization Conference and Executive Editor of the Church Revitalizer.


The Ten Best Practices in Church Revitalization Efforts Today’s young ministers should seek to develop knowledge and Biblical training from experienced leaders in church revitalization so when they are deployed into the work of ministry, they will know how to lead a church that must rise from its deathbed vigil to grow spiritually and numerically once again. Take the time and make the time to get the proper training before you move forward in church revitalization! It is vital that you prepare the laity for the work of church revitalization as well as yourself. Communicate early and often with the church how the revitalization process will take place and how it will be implemented. Every church interested in revitalization must have a commitment to a process of revitalization! If you are the church revitalization leader and you are not committed to the time necessary to achieve church revitalization and health, then perhaps another member of your church should lead the process. Revitalization requires a minimal investment of 1000 days. Every church begins its revitalization at a different place simply because every church is at a different place. Your process will look different than mine. Everything that must be done in revitalization can not be done in two hours on a Sunday. One thing I noticed was a clear difference between revitaliztion pastors who are effective and pastors who are efficient. What is the efficient pastor? What is the effective pastor? Efficiency becomes the master of the routine. It is the everyday schedule that we preach, prepare for


next weeks sermons and recover on Monday, think about follow-up on Tuesday, prepare for tonight’s activities on Wednesday, work on production schedules on Thursday, and take a much needed day of rest on Friday, and start it all over again. Effectiveness becomes the master of visionary leadership and the ability to make the hard call that will move the church forward. It is doing the things that propel the church further towards growth, health, and vitality. Church revitalization is not about finding the magic pill or the sure to succeed program. It is more about discovering God’s vision for the church and practicing it. Revitalization of churches is often very much similar from one church to another and yet it is often very much different in many ways. Keep the effort bathed in prayer. Prepare yourself spiritually and then prepare your leaders spiritually. Then begin preparing your church spiritually! Seek out God’s guidance and power! Look for outside help, coaching, encouragement and the training you will need.

Ten Best Practices in Church Revitalization Efforts 1) A Commitment to the Revitalization Process – Revitalization must receive priority in the church calendar if it is going to be revitalized. Ministry does not stop, but it does mean that in order to allow church leadership to participate, the events surrounding revitalization are given high priority for the duration of the church revitalization process.

By Tom Cheyney

Church revitalization becomes a known and valued experience. It is a worthwhile investment for leaders and laity alike. Laity feel that their ideas and suggestions are being heard and actions are being carried out. 2) A Commitment to the Harvest – Revitalization challenges churches and leaders to health and effectiveness. Church Revitalizers are committed to making more and better disciples. A harvest commitment challenges the Church Revitalizer to examine his churches local community and discover its unique calling for ministry. Church Revitalizers challenge their people to prayerfully consider their role in the harvest. The challenge is one of labor. Jesus told His disciples to “pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send out laborers for the Harvest.” 3) A Commitment to Growth – Healthy things grow. Growth requires change. Change is an issue of obedience. Revitalization calls a Church Revitalizer to greater obedience and conformity to the will of God for the local church.

Obedience is a call to personal change. Those leading a local church towards revitalization bear the responsibility to lead the church to fulfill the mandates of scripture. The Great Commission (Matthew 28) and the Great Commandment (Matthew 22) are foundational to the Church revitalization process. 4) A Commitment as a Church Revitalizer to – (Abiding) Reaffirmation of a commitment to align ones life and ministry with the authority of the scriptures. Renewed commitment to intercessory prayer and to spiritual appraisal of the issues and concepts surfaced in the reviContinued on pg 64


If your church has plateaued, is in decline, or is not moving forward as quickly as you wish, the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Coaching Network is just what you are looking for. This Revitalization Coaching Network is designed to help you and your revitalization team develop a successful 18 month plan to increase church attendance, develop new people for ministry, impact community, solidify finances, become more missional, develop new ministries and deepen the making of disciples within your church renewal effort.

Each and every week, the RENOVATE National Church Revitalization Podcast publishes a free audio training covering various aspects of church revitalization and renewal. Hosted by Tom Cheyney, each podcast features content for this week’s edition of his Church Revitalization and Renewal training. Included in this series of equipping tools are interviews with key Church Revitalizers and in-depth commentary and analysis from pastors, revitalization coaches, laity, and practitioners in the field of church revitalization and renewal.

Church Revitalization / Church Planting

“A Revitalization Retreat in Every Issue” 11

The First Best Practice: Reality Checks The email reminded me that this month’s Revitalizer Magazine was themed “Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal.” I started jotting down some thoughts of what I’ve seen and what I’ve done that might be considered “Best Practices” but as I read over the list I realized one thing: Best Practices are predicated on decisions made prior to implementing the first “best practice.” In general, my list of best practices include getting to know the community first, getting to know the membership second, building a spiritual foundation, and so on. But I’ve seen too many church leaders jump into revitalization only to crash-and-burn, taking their congregations with them, because they didn’t begin at the beginning. And the beginning doesn’t start with revitalization. It starts with you. So, before you start revitalizing anything, consider the following three questions.

1. What’s Your Motivation?

Over 80 percent of North American churches are in some sort of slump … and most of those are not just slumping, they’re in a tailspin. The times are ripe for a new savior! Consider: Pretty much every search committee on the planet will tell a potential candidate that their church is desperate and willing to do whatever it takes to grow their church. And they’ll assure you that the congregation is


aware of the situation and they’re onboard. They just need the right pastor to lead them through the shadow of the valley of death … and YOU can be that pastor – they’re sure of it! Or This: The congregation has been in decline or sitting on a plateau teetering on the precipice of a slide, like mud on a California hillside. And you pick up some book like Effective Staffing for Vital Churches or one of dozens of other revitalization books (or you’ve read Revitalizer) and now you’re inspired. You can do this! And perhaps you can do it. But there’s only been one Savior, and the good religious folk put him on a cross. I can assure you, you won’t look good on wood – but that’s where you’ll be, at least figuratively if you’re jumping into a revitalization project thinking you’re the next great savior of the church. The fact is, you’re not Bill Easum, Adam Hamilton, Mike Slaughter, or any of the other handful of rarified church-turnaround leaders who’ve successfully taken an existing church, turned it upside down, and then grown it to flagship height. You are you. And you have unique skills and gifts. But you have equally unique weaknesses and blind-spots. For every ten church leaders who seriously attempt to revitalize a church, eight or nine fail. Of those, most are fired and the rest either give up and settle for status quo or they quit – many leaving ministry altogether.

By Bill Tenny-Brittian So, before you read about best turnaround practices, take some time to examine your motivation. What do you think you’re going to get out of being a Revitalizer? If you think it’s glory, accolades, and admiration … well, keep reading.

2. How’s Your Perseverance?

Turnaround isn’t a sprint. Reportedly, Aubrey Malphurs, of Dallas Theological Seminary, one of the first Church Planting Professors began his church planting class with this assertion: “There is no one young enough to successfully turn around an existing church.” The fact is, most churches don’t have the financial reserves to successfully implement a successful turnaround. It’s a very rare turnaround church candidate that’s in a position to experience sustainable church growth within the first two or three years of a turnaround effort. And what happens during those first three years? Conflict. Decline. Diminishing Resources. Exponentially Increased Anxiety. And please don’t believe for one moment that your membership is going to love and adore you while you implement the necessary changes in leadership, practice, and attitudes. You will be the most reviled and disliked leader in your community, at least by some in your church. Those who have no use for you seem to always be the ones who’ve been the backbone of the church for decades. Which means you will have to either (1) Convert Them; (2) Neutralize Them; or (3) Remove Them from

the Congregation … some of them over your core leadership’s “dead bodies.” Does it ever get better? For eight out of ten would-be Revitalizers, no. There are very few warm-hearted ministers who can take the strain of having to be the least loved pastor in living history. For most of us, we didn’t get into ministry to fight, but make no mistake … a successful Revitalizer is in for the battle of his or her life because they’ve stepped into the eternal battle for the heart and soul of the church. The question you need to ask before reading the How To articles in the rest of this magazine is, “Do you have the perseverance to slog through the mud the whole distance of the race?” And make no mistake, most of a church’s turnaround is leadership in mud to your hips. It’s tiring. It’s hurtful. It’s frustrating. It’s heartbreaking. And I have no idea why anyone would willingly even try. But if you must, then you must be ready for the long haul.

growing churches. In fact, the opposite is true. Most church work hinders the growth of the church and gets in the way of evangelism and disciple-making. To lead a successful turnaround means you’ll be required to give up most of the things the church calls ministry. A successful turnaround demands prioritizing those outside of the church over your own church members. It calls for more time in the community and little time in the study. It necessitates making changes to meet the needs and the preferences of those who don’t write checks or perhaps even attend worship yet, in favor of not meeting the needs or the preferences of those who are the church’s greatest supporters. And it means skipping the senior-women’s Bible study where you’re adored so that you can attend the Chamber of Commerce networking coffee as the only pastor who shows up every single week (and where no one really

holds you in high esteem). All that’s to say that leading a turnaround is hard work that will tax your personal resources. If you’re married and your marriage isn’t rock solid, it’ll destroy your marriage. If you have children, it’ll divide your loyalties. And if you have a hobby, forget it. The observation “If you don’t hate your parents, your spouse, your children, and even yourself then you can’t be my disciple” comes close to reality when you take on a church turnaround. The question is, can you afford it? Are you willing to invest the time and resources to become one of the best known people in town at the expense of your church, your family, and the latest episodes of whatever TV show you no longer have time to watch even if you had a DVR? And, pointing back to the previous point, do you have personal resources to live that life for the next three years or so?

Continued on Page 22

3. Can You Make the Personal Investment? I’m not going to get popular by being honest, but let me be so for a moment. Over the past thirty-five years in ministry I’ve discovered that many (dare I say most?) pastors are less-than-motivated to do what it takes to lead effectively in today’s anti-church culture. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re lazy, because most put in a lot of hours doing church work. But the truth is, very little work that pastors do results in new believers, new disciples, or




Cross Generational Children’s Ministry One of the things I have noticed in my many years of ministry is how important it is to learn from those who came before you. I believe it helps us lead and prepare better for the future. I know it has helped me become a better children’s pastor. I also believe the same is true for the next generation. The lessons and insight I have gained from teenagers and kids has given me a great lens to process information. There have been so many great people who have helped mentor and guide me over the past 20 years. The one relationship that modeled intergenerational mentoring and ministry to me the most was with the first pastor I ever served with. He took a chance and hired me--a 26 year old with no seminary degree, to be his children’s pastor. I remember how nervous and excited I was. I didn’t feel qualified in the least, but I knew God was calling me to serve Him in the area of children’s ministry. He would often say God is the best at qualifying the unqualified. My pastor mentored me and helped me understand the importance and reverence I needed to have for my calling. He surrounded me with so many learning opportunities and people to glean knowledge from. We went to seminars, conferences, and benefitted from coaching by many different people. They ranged in age from 19 years old to 81 years old; each offering a different, yet unique approach to ministry. Different generations coming together to learn from each other is a great thing. I believe it can be a real game changer for the church. I also believe it is a great catalyst for growth. Growth, both spiritually and numerically. It can create a community of culture of unity. There has been a recent movement of churches becoming more generationally strategic. An intergenerational community is not something new though. It is modeled for us in the bible. I think specifically of the nation of Israel. Moses would often point out how important it was to train up children in the way of the Lord. He was indicating the importance of mentorship. Passing on the things they had learned to the next generation of believers. It became the culture to them--the new norm. This is so important to the spiritual health for those who will lead the next generation of the church. I am

By Bill Hegedus

so excited to see that many churches are embracing this model of ministry, especially when it comes to children’s ministry and student ministry. In most children’s ministry areas, you will find many different age groups leading different classes. Some leaders are parents or grandparents. Other leaders are high school or college students. This model by itself is not truly intergenerational. It is more situational and based on availability of preferred service times. What I am talking about is a strategic plan and pathway for children to learn from students and adults together. Also for students and adults to learn from each other. Being strategic in this way really helps foster a deeper level of community that embraces every generation. The best thing is that becoming a generationally strategic church is actually pretty easy. The answer lies right in the word “strategic”. That means it is mapped out ahead of time. That there is a purpose and a goal to achieve. It requires intentionality and commitment. Start by asking yourself this question “Where is our church right now generationally?” This will lead you to your next two questions. “What do we want generational ministry to look like at our church?”, and finally, “What do we need to do to make this happen?”. It all starts with a game plan. I believe it doesn’t necessarily have to change a lot of what you are doing, but more so how you are doing it. For example, this is one of the ways we approach it in children’s ministry. We have an amazing 10th grader who leads our 4th grade girls small group. However, she doesn’t do it alone. She has an adult leading with her as well. By being strategic and using this style, you have three different age groups pouring into each other. Thinking through the lens of different generations really lends itself to taking what you are already doing and giving it a much wider impact. The discipleship that comes out of different ages coming together to learn has more of a far-reaching impact than you can imagine. I see the benefits from just the simplest things we are doing here. The trust our students get from our seniors and our adults. The way kids are learning spiritual truths from students. And the spiritual growth the students gain from working with kids. Not as a classroom

helper but as a leader. Continued on Page 26



The Only Numbers You Should Be Counting in Student Ministry If you work/lead anywhere in the hemisphere of the prototypical church, no matter what denomination that may be, then you have probably been conditioned to bring back a very rudimentary skill that every single person reading this has been taught from an early age: COUNTING. Ten, sixteen, thirty-four, forty-five, wait someone just walked through the doors, that makes forty-six, I think one person just went to the bathroom…. that makes forty-seven. Sound familiar? To tell the truth this is a normal thing we all do as leaders, I do this at times, but for a lot of us counting has consumed our ministries. Let’s take a second to test this out; you will know you are a counter if one of the following applies to you: •You have stressed yourself out/ worried if people would actually show up for “your thing.” •You lay in bed after checking other church’s social media and wish you had what they had. •You feel your only as successful as your last large attendance and that was last August. If we are not careful, we as leaders can get into a consuming rhythm of comparison and worry when it comes to what we count and that is a really unhealthy place for leaders to be when it comes to measuring success. Now don’t get me wrong, healthy things grow and we count people because people count, but if we were to think about the things that really

matter in the way we inspire and impact people, there are only a three specific categories that we as leaders should actually care about tracking when it comes to counting in our ministries. First Time Guests are something you should count. You’ll know if your student ministry is healthy and heading in the right direction by the number of first time guests you have attending your program each week. Having students attend your program for the first time shows you how well you are reaching people who do not already attend your church. Each week attendance is going to fluctuate and go up and down all the time, but what matters is how many first time guests you have had. Part of leading a student ministry has everything to do with being around students in your community. It is great to hang out with the varsity Christian who has been attending your church since they were three, but the fact is, healthy Student Ministries have more to do with the ways we are reaching and impacting our community then they have to do with keeping the people who already attend. Now, do we want those who have been invested in our ministries to stay there until they graduate? Yes of course! But your ministry will always be more effective and community inspiring if you care about new people, not just your core attending. The goal I shoot for every week is that out of whatever attendance is at my student ministry experience or event, that 10% of the room’s attendance are first time guests.

By Drew Cheyney

When that happens, it shows me how affective our Student Ministry has been at reaching students in our community and when first time guests enter your environments, it gives you the opportunity to tie them to more. Another category worth tracking is salvations & baptisms. We do what we do because we as church leaders think that Jesus’ way is best for everyone’s life. We want people to accept Christ into their lives. We want Students to make better choices through Gods lens. That is a very real thing for all of us as pastors, but it is this number that will show you how effective you have been in impacting people who do not know Jesus. We do what we do because of this opportunity we are giving students to know Jesus and this needs to not only be something we track, but something that we make a big deal and celebrate. If no one comes to know Jesus, then all we are doing each week is having a mediocre to big party and our experiences should be more than that. The next step for our students after choosing salvation is Baptism. This is an energizing decision that should be celebrated in your student ministry because it nails down for your students the public nature of their relationships with Jesus. Warning: celebrate the salvation & baptism numbers more so then weeks you have crazy numbers. Huge events are great because they energize and add momentum to your program, but make salvation & baptism something you count because Continued on page 36


Does God really set people free? Or are we just talking? Transformational Discipleship was developed to train leaders how to guide both brand-new and longtime believers towards deep spiritual change. This training is foundational for every believer. It guides people who are stuck on their faith journey due to unresolved, often hidden issues in their lives towards true spiritual, emotional and mental freedom through intimacy with God.

“It’s not like anything I have been through before.”

Pastor John Wright, Titusville, FL “This is life transforming. I’m going to teach the socks off this thing.”

Dr. Phil Phillips, Ft. Myers, FL


Courage: Practice Makes Perfect! In a 2002 poll conducted by the BBC, Winston Churchill was named the “Greatest Briton” in all of history. I recently watched the latest movie made about Churchill, Darkest Hour, in which I learned a great deal about him as a leader who led a revitalization of the United Kingdom. He stood tall in a time when a great evil came to power in Nazi Germany. Churchill was the lone voice of warning against the rise of Hitler and Nazism and when the time came to act, Churchill was elected as the Prime Minister of Britain and he led them through the tumultuous times of World War II. I related his journey and tenure as Prime Minister as being similar to that of a pastor leading revitalization work in the local church. He struggled in his early years of leadership to find success. There were many who ignored his warnings of Hitler’s regime and tactics. That is not all that different than what some face in churches who are not willing to admit the lack of church health. The enemy has lulled the church to sleep thinking everything is fine, or that the statistics of church decline do not apply to their local congregation. Friend, though we are not fighting flesh and blood, we do wage war against the unseen forces that Paul mentions in Galatians 6. You and I need best practices in place as we work through the revitalization process. I learned a great deal from Churchill’s leadership and I present to you five best practices that will create a church culture which will succeed in the face of insurmountable odds.

Challenge the Status Quo

Ronald Reagan once said, “Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.’” Follow this with a quote from Howard Schultz who said, “Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march.” Two influential leaders on opposite ends of the social spectrum have the same thought on the status quo. Protecting what is sacred in our own hearts often leads us to vision drift or keeps you from looking at the horizon for the next opportunity to seize the day for the Kingdom of God. The status quo can serve as a Berlin Wall that keeps the local church away from a world that needs the hope that we have. To challenge the status quo, you need to arm yourself with information, stats, and truth. Pastor, as you study each week to exegete the Scriptures, you also need to exegete your church, and your community. As you gather the data, use it to challenge the stuckness of your congregation. Use this information to set attainable goals that move you beyond what is the status quo. But challenge with patience, humility, and truth. If you image Paul when he was in Athens, he didn’t just jump right in and start beat-


By Chris Irving ing them down for their multitude of beliefs. He listened and exegeted Athens, and then gained an audience and spoke about an idol to an unknown god which he then used to share the gospel. He challenged the status quo of an entire belief system, but did so with humility and patience. You can do so as well and slowly move the church out of its death march and in to a parade for the King of Kings!

Confront Challenges with Prayer

Perhaps the most important practice you have in your arsenal is that of prayer. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are praying at midnight. Now when was the last time you prayed and led a worship service at midnight? Imprisonment is a challenge that many reading this will not face, but at times it might feel like you are imprisoned in a church that is stagnant and not going anywhere very fast. Listen, prayer is a petition to the God who is always present, all powerful, all knowing, and He cares for you. Pastor you must lead your people to approach the Throne of Grace with confidence. There are several constants with the nature of prayer you must plug into. First, God speaks truth and truth produces freedom. The chains of lies and bonds of half-truths will imprison you if you listen to them, and if you practice spreading what is false then you will be guilty of imprisoning your people! Friend, let go and listen to the voice of God for there is freedom when you pray. Second, God does not confuse when He speaks to you. Therefore, listen to His voice and not the voice of the antagonists. Third, when you pray, you’ll gain a confidence that is not produced from within yourself, but a confidence simply traced back to the very presence of the Holy Spirit. Seek the Lord while He can be found and confront the challenges of the status quo with prayer! Prayer doesn’t change people or things, but God does.

Constantly Witness

Right now, I am leading my church to “Show Them Jesus” as I was challenged by Dr. Gary McIntosh at the Renovate National Church Revitalization Conference last fall in Orlando to do. We are currently working through Alvin Reid’s book “Sharing Jesus {without freaking out}” and has it ever changed and challenged my perspective on evangelism. Pastor you set the pace when it comes to the witness of the church. Have you a constant and consistent witness in your community? Realizing at times it means you are the only one witnessing, but be encouraged. In your sermons, in your personal time out in the community, and in ministry moments, keep your witness and be constant and consistent. The consistency of our message is going to be easier than the timing

and frequency because the gospel doesn’t change, but how often you share the Gospel can. So be encouraged, and share the gospel message. A couple of things you can do...First, get out of the office and find a place in your community where you can be seen and you can build new relationships. For me, that is easier said than done because we don’t have a local coffee shop, but we have a few restaurants where I can have lunch and meet people. Perhaps you have something like a barber shop you can frequent. The main thing is to get out and go! Second, figure out your methodology of sharing the gospel and share! For me, it is the Roman Road. There might be another angle for you, but find your niche and go with it and constantly and consistently witness. Finally, let your people catch you witnessing. This will encourage them to do the same as evangelism is often times caught rather than taught.

Cultivate Relationships within the Church

Don’t lose your marbles over pushing a revitalization scheme down your people’s throats. You need those marbles in your jar for when the time is right to pull the trigger. Marbles equals relationships and relationships are built upon trust. You can build your vision plans and steps to revitalization as you build relationships of trust with the congregation you pastor. I find that being hands on in ministry whether that is a children’s ministry event, or youth event, or senior adult event is a great way to interact with people and build trust. They get to see your heart, your heads, and your feet in action in that which you speak of from the pulpit. It builds credibility with your congregation which will go a long way in turning the status quo into the status whoa! The darkest hour is just before the dawn when all seems lost and the Lord just acts and light breaks through. It is then these relationships cultivated over time will result in a church that is ready to grow to health again.

yet loses or forfeits himself?” Above all else, you carry your cross and follow Jesus to remember whose you are. You know the rest of the story of Churchill and the results of World War II. His leadership in a difficult time for the world will always stand as a great reminder of convictions married to great leadership. But Churchill paid a great price for leading with his convictions as will you. But one thing I was reminded of by Churchill was need for courage. Several times he simply encourages his people with that simple reminder to “have courage.” Pastor, courage…courage. Chris Irving is the Lead Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gonzales, TX. Chris has served in ministry for 15 years in Texas. He led a small rural church to revitalization and is currently involved in the revitalization process of First Baptist Gonzales. Dr. Irving aims to help pastors equip the lay leadership of the church to serve in ministry. He and his wife, Amber have been married for 14 years and have six children.



Carry Your Cross

You know the verse, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23, CSB). Pastor, you must take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. Carry that cross as a reminder that Jesus paid it all. Carry that cross as a reminder of who it is that is exalted in the church, Jesus Christ. Carry that cross as a reminder that you are hidden behind the cross and it is cross of Christ that changes the heart of man, not you. Imagine a scenario in which you plan and build a vision for moving a church to health and growth over a 5-year period. Sounds like something we all want for our churches. But, you’ve built this in your own power, your own way, and you’ve gained a huge church and bigger churches are knocking on your door because they want you! Jesus’ words are telling, “what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world (a huge church by man’s counting)



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The First Best Practice: Reality Checks Continued from pg 13

The Final Reality Check You may be reading this and ready to conclude I’m an alarmist … I’m overstating the difficulty of a church turnaround. But after thirty-five years of church planting, church turnarounds, coaching, and consulting, and keeping current with the research I have more horror stories than glowing success stories. I can tell you about marriages that crashed and burned because of the stress. I can tell you about PKs who left the church and the faith because they saw how the church treated their parents. From heart attacks to suicides. Divorces to disownment. Former ministers who became teachers, therapists, sales associates, bartenders, and IRS phone operators. The road to church turnaround is fraught with difficulties and, like I suggested earlier, I’m not sure why anyone in their right OR wrong mind would voluntarily take one on. Except … God keeps calling. Men and women keep responding. And there are enough successes out there that give a few of us hope. And so, if you’re still committed to being (or continuing to be) a Revitalizer, then take a breath, say a prayer, and begin reading the rest of this issue to discover the best practices of successful turnarounds.

Bill Tenny-Brittian is the managing partner of The Effective Church Group. For over thirty years, The Effective Church Group has been equipping churches and church leaders so they can be successful in reaching their mission. We provide consulting and coaching using the time-tested Complete Ministry Audit to help churches reach maximum effectiveness. Learn more at 22

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The Best Book I’ve Ever Read on Revitalization I have lots of friends who love to read good books. I went to school with many of them and we like to keep each other abreast of some of the latest offerings to sharpen our minds. A few of my friends belong to book clubs and discuss the pros and cons of popular novels. Some people like to read the works of dead authors, noting how many of those books have withstood the changing eras. One of my friends even says on her voicemail message, “…tell me your favorite book.” Her husband has built her an outdoor wooden bookcase called “Linda’s Little Library.” She encourages neighbors to take a book and leave a book. If you are like me, you read a lot—books, magazines, news outlets, blogs and more. You can probably name your favorite works from various genres. But since this magazine is dedicated to church revitalization, I thought I would share with you the best book I’ve ever read on revitalization. It’s really quite simple, but it often gets overlooked. It’s the B-I-B-L-E. Don’t write me off. Stay with me. Why do I argue the Bible is the best book on church revitalization? It doesn’t contain clear cut steps for many of the issues you’ll face in churches. But there is more there than what you realize. Moreover, far too many churches have gotten away from the authority of God’s Word and that is one of the reasons why there church is in such a mess and in need of revitalization. But don’t get me wrong, some churches faithfully preach the message but still dwindle in size and significance, because they haven’t put God’s Word into practice.

The Bible on Revitalization

It is no surprise the Bible has far more about church planting in it than it does church revitalization. Most of the New Testament authors wrote within a couple of decades of each other, covering AD 50-70 (except for John’s writings). When Paul, Peter, James and company wrote to churches, 24

By Joel R. Breidenbaugh, PhD

church leaders and individual members, they addressed churches and Christians in the church planting stage—just a few months and years along. But when John wrote to various churches, some of them were a generation or two old. They had moved beyond the church planting years and faced transitions in leadership and membership. While we don’t know a great deal about the historical background on several of the churches of Revelation, we know Ephesus and Laodicea had existed at least thirty years (see Acts 19; Ephesians and Colossians 4:16), and possibly forty or more (depending on the date of Revelation). So what message do we get from these churches which were in trouble and in need of revitalization?

A Message on Returning to the Lord

Jesus had several commendable traits toward the Church of Ephesus (see Revelation 2:1-7). The problem with the church was she had abandoned her first love. Most scholars note how Ephesus had not remained faithful to her Lord. Dying and plateaued churches have few people serving others either in the church or in the community. They become so inwardly-focused and selfish they dwindle year after year. But this lack of service almost always points to a deeper issue— they need to begin by returning to the Lord. The members need to think about their initial salvation and how they loved the Lord. They need to recommit their lives to the Lord first and foremost. When they return to the Lord, their first love, they can begin to see their service in the church as service unto the Lord first (see Colossians 3:23-24).

A Message on Godly Zealousness

When Jesus addressed the Church of Laodicea, He had become disgusted, even sick with that congregation (see Revelation 3:14-22). He was ready to spit them out because they were lukewarm. Nestled between the cold, mountain water of Colossae

and the hot, medicinal waters of Hierapolis, Laodicea and her church neither offered spiritual refreshment (like a cold drink on a hot day) nor spiritual healing (like a hot bath for the tired and sick). They were lukewarm in their service and their commitment to the Lord. And judgment was about to come. Churches in need of revitalization today have grown lukewarm in their service and commitment to Christ. Once on fire for the Lord during their church planting stage, such churches often provided refreshment to hurting believers at one time. Yet trials through time caused lethargy to sit in and the church gets stuck in monotony. The call to Laodicea to be zealous for the Lord is what dying churches need today. But not just any zeal, because it is possible to have a zeal apart from the truth of the gospel of righteousness found only in Christ (see Romans 10:2 and look at the members of cults and world religions). Our zeal must be a godly zeal—a holy pursuit of the Lord Jesus. Like Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane said while chasing the Dukes of Hazard, we need to be “in hot pursuit” of Jesus.

A Message on Repentance

Finally, the churches of Ephesus and Laodicea had something in common: they both needed to repent (2:5; 3:19). The message of repentance is a common theme in the Scriptures, especially in light of the new covenant. John the Baptist said, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus echoed the same thing (4:17). Peter preached repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19), as did Paul (17:30; 2 Timothy 2:25). Unfortunately, fewer evangelical churches are preaching the necessity of repentance today. Not only has that omission come in the basic gospel message while calling people to believe in Jesus, it has also been left out for church members to repent before God and those they have wronged. It takes a great deal of humility to repent and God may restore relationships

and ministry effectiveness when that happens. Until a church humbles itself to repent, she won’t see the kind of revitalization she desperately needs.


It is no secret the Bible is the best-selling book of all-time. It has been translated into a couple of thousand languages. It has shaped cultures and nations. Within a few years of its writing, the Bible transformed large portions of the Middle East, Northern Africa and Southern Europe. Over the next few centuries, the Bible reached most of the western world. The Bible has brought transformation and reformation to individuals, churches, communities and nations. Let’s not be too quick to leave it behind when we need revitalization. There are a growing number of good books on church revitalization and we should consult them. But make sure they supplement what God’s Book says, because our churches could use a healthy dose of its teaching, especially on returning to the Lord, godly zealousness for the Lord and repentance. May the Lord bring these disciplines to us for our good and for His glory!

Unfortunately, fewer evangelical churches are preaching the necessity of repentance today. Not only has that omission come in the basic gospel message while calling people to believe in Jesus, it has also been left out for church members to repent before God and those they have wronged.

Joel Breidenbaugh, PhD, is the lead pastor of a new church plant, Gospel Centered Church, on the northside of Apopka. He has also taught homiletics and evangelism for Liberty University School of Divinity since 2007. 25

Cross Generational Children’s Ministry Continued from pg 17 I am blown away by the seriousness that these high school students have taken with this responsibility. They learn the importance of showing up prepared. The encouragement they get from our adult co-leaders helps to affirm their impact in the church. It all comes back to being intentional about creating pathways and intersections for generations to merge and serve together. I love the quote from Brad M. Griffin in Intergenerational Ministry Beyond the Rhetoric, “Intergenerational is not something churches do—it’s something they become.”. That is so true. The whole reason for intergenerational ministry and developing these pathways is to make it part of your church’s culture. It can’t be something you just check off a list, but something that is part of the ministry DNA of your church. Intergenerational Ministry in churches is something that occurs naturally in the culture but not necessarily intentionally modeled as a strategy. First off, we have to understand what intergenerational ministry is. All ages groups children, teens, adults and seniors all working in unison to pour into each other and help each other grow spiritually. The purpose of it is to function as an entire church body and growing together regardless of age. There are multiple resources online that will give you even more ideas and ways to grow your church’s generational culture. There are many intergenerational planning guides available online that you can download for free. These guides help point me in the right direction to think more intentionally about the benefits of generational ministry. My prayer for you is that your church will grow in generational unity and discipleship.


Best Practices for Church Revitalization Conflict within the church is non-exsistent or very low! The church is able to handle rising conflict without getting derailed. The pastors ego and control needs are kept in check. The church has discovered its identity mission and purpose. They believe that their best years are ahead of them and not behind them. Laity are working effectively within their spiritual gifts. Bill Hegedus is the Fam-

ily Pastor at Bethlehem Church in Atlanta. Bill has over 15 years experience ministering to kids and families and currently serves as the Family Pastor of Bethlehem Church. His heart and passion is to help kids understand and live out a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Often described as a big kid himself, Bill uses laughter and innovation to do ministry in an exciting and memorable way kids enjoy.

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When Ministry Hurts Ministry can be hell on earth. As ministers our entire lives are vested in the calling to the local church. And when we choose to experience ministry as more than responsibilities with a paycheck, we make ourselves vulnerable to the church as a people rather than simply the church as a place. The church as a people is a messy collective striving and stumbling towards cleanliness, making us the sponges and rags that bring to them the living water. This effort is highly involved, drawing even our families into the messy mix. Together as a physical family, we scrub and soak in the clean and the dirty, so that in the end we all can feel like one, pure spiritual family. And when one part of the family becomes unhealthy, that is when ministry begins to transform into hell on earth. The unhealthy attitudes are infectious, causing anxiety and strain to find its way into life inside and outside the walls of the church. As a pastor, this “family dynamic” of church causes the infection to not only affect me, but my wife and kids as well. Every decision I make not only affects the leaders and members around me, it also affects my family. As my wife and kids form relationships with church members, their relationships are directly affected by the health of those relationships with me. If a male church leader is in disagreement with me, he may tell his wife, who may tell her friends – which may be friends that my wife has tried to bond with – who now begin to whisper behind her back. My kids now walk into rooms where a circle of friends stand and turn their backs on them simply because of their misunderstanding of my leadership. Staff relations that were once trusted are now strained because one staff person did not receive as much attention as another. These misunderstandings and outbursts of infectious attitudes have now found their catalyst with social media. When I began ministry 26 years ago, we called gossip, slander, and division the “telephone ministry.” Within hours of a meeting 28

By Ron Smith or after a sermon the telephones would be hot with gossip and slander. “Who does he think he is, this young pastor trying to move our classrooms?” “Can you believe that worship service today; the music was so loud.” Today, sub-texting and sub-tweeting have taken the throne of this “telephone ministry.” Church members will post about you, your sermons, and your leadership without ever specifically naming you. Then those who are with them are the first ones to like it, share it, and comment on it. What makes this strategy so intriguing is that typically these alliances would have never come together; however, now that the common goal is to harm someone through words or acts of division this divisive force becomes strengthened, focused, and purposed. Ministry hurts because the very ones we work diligently to lock arms and hearts with have now locked us out and turned their hearts another way. Ministry hurts when the ones that were so close to us have now turned against us. For it is not an enemy who taunts me – then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me – then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. - Psalm 55:12-14 So what do you do when your hurt has overwhelmed you? My own church has gone through three types of revitalization within seven years. It’s been tough; but I was reminded once again that Jesus felt this pain on the night when He needed friendship most. “On the night that He was betrayed” - I Corinthians 11:23

The night before the initiation of the crucifixion, He was betrayed. Of all the nights when friendship and support should be most prominent, He too was betrayed. After receiving various wounds throughout my time soaking and scrubbing in the waters of the local church, I have found it helpful to categorize the wounds and then respond according to the category. For the surface wounds: When anonymous notes from fringe people arrive at your desk, I would figuratively (or perhaps literally) roll your eyes and move on. Tear up the note. Turn off the unhealthy thoughts. Give a very limited audience to the constant complainer who only speaks from their own wounds. For these wounds are neither informed nor contextualized, thus their value is not evident to your personal ministry. For the cuts that draw a little blood, but heal quickly: When good, loving, gifted people leave the church, or when someone off-handedly takes a jab at the church or at your family, I would go to your wife for perspective or I would go to friends outside the church. With criticism, remind yourself that you are not responsible for the church, you’re never going to make everyone happy, and church isn’t about making people happy. We must move on, or we won’t move out of our defeated perspectives. For the wounds of a friend, the ones that are needed and good: Most people are afraid to approach a pastor, as we can see in the anonymous letters or sub-tweet threads. But when someone comes to us face-to-face in love and genuine concern, we must be wise to receive and process what they have to say. As we are called to edify and equip others, we must allow the wounds of a friend to do the same for us. For the wounds that cut so close to the heart they feel fatal: These are the stabs in the back; the hidden dagger to the chest; the ones that hurt the most because they’re personal and typically unforeseen; the wounds that are deep and take

extended time to heal. When these wounds come, it is not until you stop replaying the offenses, evaluate your own part of the problem, forgive each time it arises in your head (which can be frequent for a while), and trust the Lord to deal with the offense in His time and His way that the wound heals. While my first reaction is to unleash my own telephone ministry or sub-tweet thread, my better reaction is to unleash my grip on my wound and give God room to operate and heal it. We can’t always share our wounds; but God knows them intimately. He knows them intimately and He heals them intimately. He sees the intricacies of the anonymous note as much as He does the strategies of the unforeseen stab to the chest. We must remember that ultimately, we can’t protect ourselves from all the nicks, cuts, and wounds. If we could, we would have to avoid engaging in the dirty work of the church – the scrubbing, the soaking, the brushing, the washing. And by avoiding the dirty work, we rob ourselves the joy of the finished product: reflecting on how God used us to bring something so much closer to His intended design. After all, we’re doing this for Him. Ministry will hurt. But we must choose to care more about His will and His work than what anyone else does or does not say. So whether you’ve experienced a surface scratch or a fatal wound, you must release your grip on what you’ve got and let Him heal all that you have. Ron Smith is the lead pastor of Waterstone a church working towards revitalization and renewal. He leads the National Coaching Network for the Renovate Group as its lead coach. Ron is a husband to Rana, father to three girls. Ron is the author of Churches Gone Wild. You can follow Ron and receive free resources at Ron serves as CO-Leader of Renovate Pod-casts as well as serving on staff of the Renovate Coaching Network.


Dream Big! About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of America. The first year they established a townsite. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year, the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway? Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries. I find myself regularly thinking: I hope that is not me! The Lord has not brought me to where I am so that I can begin to coast through the rest of my life without a dream. Think about the vineyard worker…he had a dream; he saw a different future. Luke 13:6-9: Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘for three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir’, the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” Dreaming is tough. Why? Most of us like to play it safe. We don’t rock the boat too much. We don’t get too excited about anything. That may come from having a laid-back personality or maybe you’ve just been socially conditioned to do life that way. Now, I understand that not every phase 30

By Michael Atherton

of this life is a call to arms or a rally to conquer the world. However, I cannot help but sense that far too often we settle for considerably less than what God has in mind for us. If dreaming is tough, then dreaming BIG can be risky business. The bigger you dare to dream, the less happy you are with the status quo. The bigger your dream the greater your discontent with just floating through life. Big dreams make you NOT want to row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Rather, dreaming big challenges us to take that boat and hit some white-water rapids…get the adrenalin pumping and go have an adventure of a lifetime! But dreaming big requires something of you.

1. Big Dreaming Requires Forgetting Your Past

Living in the future is tough. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But the fact of the matter is that most of us would rather live in our past. We allow our past victories to validate us. We allow our past failures to define us. We allow our past hurts to control us. All the while, living in our past will cloud our vision and compromise our discernment. The reason why so many have an inability to dream big is that their past is suppressing their outlook of the future. Remember the words of encouragement that Paul offered to the church in Philippi, “I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). If you are going to be an effective leader, you cannot be held hostage by the past. Allow the past to teach you about the future, but don’t let the past dictate your future. Our God is in the business of using yesterday’s hurts and heartaches to propel us forward to experiencing tomorrow’s achievements and accomplishments.

2. Big Dreaming Requires Big Faith

God’s plan. The problem with so many churches today is that leaders are chasing their man-made ideas at the expense of God’s vision. Your ideas are not what is going to invigorate most of the people within the Church that you serve. The fact of the matter is that your ideas may not even get you excited. The church is not in need of another man-made idea. Man-made ideas don’t create a culture of follow through. We need fewer ideas and more God-given dreams. Your ideas may or may not get you up in the morning. God’s plan will motivate you far more. You will wake up every morning and sprint to the office to be a part of what God is doing. Receive God’s vision and work to follow it through to its completion!

3. Big Dreaming Requires Stewardship

T.E. Lawrence once said, “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds awake to the day to find it was all vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for the many act out their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible…”

The author of Hebrews reminds us that faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Looking forward, into an uncertain future, requires one to live by faith. As a result, faith demands we accept challenges for which we may feel ill-equipped to face. Faith demands we tackle problems which we may feel uneducated to address. Faith demands we pursue opportunities which we may feel unqualified to achieve. Nevertheless, to face tomorrow’s challenges, problems, and opportunities, faith will prove to be the most important tool, if success is to be reached.

Good leaders are adequate stewards, but great leaders are great stewards. Great leaders understand how to steward their time, talents, energies, resources, etc. When we think about stewardship, we most naturally make a bee-line to a discuss money. But stewardship is so much more than simply money. Stewardship is one’s ability to use all the resources God provides for His glory. Some leaders can’t dream big because they don’t have time. Some leaders can’t dream big because they don’t have energy. Some leaders can’t dream big because they have squandered their resources. If you are going to dream big, you must be a proven steward of all that God has provided. You see, God did not fail to afford you everything you need to be effective in accomplishing all that He has called you to. You may have squandered His resource, but He did not fail to provide it.

4. Big Dreaming Requires Follow Through

There is a difference between a big dream and a big idea. A dream (vision) is a picture of what God wants to accomplish through His Church for His Kingdom’s purpose. Notice the progression; God’s picture, God’s Church, God’s Kingdom. When God reveals His plan to the leader, it is imperative the leader becomes laser-focused on accomplishing

What are you asking God for today? What is your dream for the future?

Dr. Michael Atherton, Senior PastorFirst Baptist Church of O’Fallon, O’Fallon, Missouri. Mike has served as a Senior Pastor for 15 years. Leading a church in a church merger, he has learned firsthand the challenges of a revitalizer. Mike is the author of The Revitalized Church. Mike leads a Mentored Master of Divinity program at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and is past President of the Colorado Baptist Convention.


As we think about sustaining church revitalization in the local church, consider that in these declining churches most members have not been members there for fifteen years. A pastor of a dying church recently said, “If you can keep them for 15 years, you must be doing something right.” Did you know that the average membership length of time for an evangelical church is only nine years and charismatic churches burn people out in a little less than six years. To revitalize a church one must be focused on doing real disciple-making. So if we drop a person’s tenure to something like ten years, then we would need to incorporate 30 new people each year. A church with an average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 100 would need to incorporate 20 people. Sustainability can be achieved but it does not happen without a plan to connect and reach one’s community. - Tom Cheyney

Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal

By Greg Kappas

Best practices in various venues have become popular in articles, blogs, ebooks, books, forums, conferences, retreats, advances, etc. We all want to know how to excel in our ministry and labor as a pastoral leader.

mother and exhorting as a disciplined father.

This issue focuses on just the above for Church Revitalization and Renewal. Some of the best practices I have seen and lived out in my and our ministry have centered around two major parts of the Apostle Paul’s life and ministry. They both are centered in one chapter of a letter that Paul wrote to one of the three or four healthiest churches in the New Testament.

For you know how, like a father dealing with his children, we used to exhort each of you personally, stimulating and encouraging and charging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and the glorious blessedness into which true believers will enter after Christ’s return. (1 Thessalonians 2:11,12)

You know the church, the church at Thessalonica…the Thessalonians. They were a joy to Paul…he loved being with them and pouring his life into them…he loved being a team with Silas and Timothy in their mentoring of these new believers…he had very few problems with them as people and followers of Jesus Christ. What did Paul do and become that made this connection so special. Two of his best practices with this church body centered on “gentleness and exhortation.” Gentle as a nursing 32

But we behaved gently when we were among you, like a devoted mother nursing and cherishing her own children. (1 Thessalonians 2:7)

Paul knew that a healthy family was dependent on a fine godly mother and a righteous father. He knew that a spiritual family needed similar health. A healthy church needs this balance of a mother and father. He wanted this fine church and its surrounding churches coming from it to be gentle and firm… a devoted mother, a nursing mother who cherishes her own children… yet a father firm with his children, exhorting, stimulating, encouraging and charging his children to live in focus and on purpose. Leading churches, pastor, is doing just this. How are you doing with your gentle warrior side? Are

you leading with genuine care for your staff and people? A local church usually has the spirit of its leader and leaders. If you are genuine in your care for people, they will feel safe, secure in their o growth, knowing that you are genuinely devoted to them, caring deeply for them. Do you ever have that nursing side to you in leadership? Are you willing to stop, listen and pray on the spot for those who tell you over a sip of their coffee that they are hurting, they are in despair…they are depressed after another bummer Christmas season. Remember, a nursing mother cannot hurry. A baby, a baby like my grandson, Stefan, takes time to feed. The baby’s timetable is rarely the same as the mother’s for nursing. Are you rushing your feeding and tending of your sheep. Do you stop and take time for real care for them? Do you demonstrate in your time, care and listening, that you cherish your own flock? They are your spiritual children! When I was pastoring in Seattle, leading a church that by the grace of God was growing, I met a young man in our congregation…a friend, with a wife that Debbie and I loved. They had children and were sincere in their faith. The husband had a strong struggle and genuine addiction that he needed healing from through the Holy Spirit. He wanted to walk daily with Jesus and was confused why he was living in chains. The young man eventually saw total freedom from his besetting sin and full healing. He was at a point through his rocky journey that he needed to be gently led and not firmly led. He already was under such besetting bondage that he needed time, prayer, Scripture discussion and integration, along with healing from the Holy Spirit. He needed time with me and others, he did not need to be exhorted and

firmly dealt with. Honestly, there were times I wanted to kick him in the butt spiritually and physically. But, the Lord used 1 Thessalonians 2 to remind me what he genuinely needed. He needed a gentleness that was supernatural…and God gave him that. More recently, while I was pastoring in Florida, a church planter needed some firmness. I knew his heart seemed good and he was intent on reaching lost people for Jesus to the glory of God. In fact, he was passionate about this…sometimes to the point that there were some integrity gaps at times in his spiritual journey. Things eventually reached a point in my mentoring and the mentoring of another friend with him, that I needed to step in and give a stern warning. He did not receive this well and things became tense. His heart and mouth went off and it took some time for him to regain his teachability that was always there. A good leader in many ways, this church planter for Jesus was now acting like a hot head, spurning wise choices, full of arrogance and hard headed. Within a month things were back to normal and his teachability returned. Our relationship became healthy again and the risk was worth it. We all like it when things are gentle and motherly, but it is often hard to hear the dad. Do you hear that? It is often hard to hear the exhorting dad. My pastoral friend needed this and I love him deeply. Our friendship has grown through the years. This brother had come out of the drug scene as a major dealer and God got his attention. Though he was now following Jesus, he was hard headed and was used to a particular style Continued on pg 33 33

Continued from pg 33

of leadership. Rarely did he need me to be gentle with him; he needed me to spiritually shake him often in his early years of his new journey with Jesus. That spiritual shaking included encouraging him face to face, let alone through text and calls (we all like this). It included stimulating him to love and good deeds as a pastor…it included charging him to live a life worthy of our Lord God. He needed a lot of time personally but not on the gentler side. I think you caught that, our leaders and emerging leaders need TIME from us. Ouch, that hurts since we are so packed with our schedule and yet so blinded at times in our priorities…some of our best time must be with our leaders. They need gentle care and they need firm care…they need a balance of love that is gentle and exhorting… without that balance they become latch key Christians, unaccountable and uncared for. Be a pastor, a shepherd who cares for his people. Be gentle! Be a pastor, a shepherd who cares for his people. Be exhorting…stand firm with a smile. Get your arms ready to do some caring…get your feet ready to do some kicking. These are two of the best practices I have seen, read and lived…gentleness and exhorting.


Where Are You? In Genesis 3 (NASB), God calls to Adam, after he and Eve had eaten of the forbidden tree’s fruit. We pick up the story in verse 9: “Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” This is a question that should be posed to every pastor, and it is painfully apparent that the same question should be directed at the church today. We seem to be focused mostly on where we want to end up. But you and I know that we can never get to where we intend to go unless we first know where we are – where to start! It is interesting that in the secular world we find the same understanding of this foundational concern. When I go into the mall, there is a directory that maps out the entire mall layout, but it has a star or some other designator to show me where I am. It usually states, “You are Here!” During a college orientation, the student often receives a map of the campus. It shows the new student where everything is located and it has that little designator on the map that says, “You are here!” The university orientation venue is the starting point for the new student to begin their tour of the campus. Even in a retail store, there are aisles with four to five labels disclosing the contents of the aisle and a number designating the aisle. If you are looking for something on aisle 20, you need to know which way to go from your present location. If you are on aisle 2 and you encounter aisle 3, then you are headed the right direction to your destination. So how can we determine where a church is before we dive headlong into a revitalization process? How can we get headed in the right direction? Let me suggest four exposing tools to help determine where the church is stuck.

First, a pastoral readiness assessment is key to starting the process. It is imperative

that the leader struggle with the hard question,

By Tracy W. Jaggers “Are you the one who can lead this church into revitalization, renewal and revival?” If that is not clear, then the process is at a standstill. I recently talked with a pastor who said, “I’ve had twenty years of effective ministry, of course I can do this!” But as we analyzed his twenty years of ministry, he realized all he had was four years of good ministry repeated five times. After producing well for four years, he would run out of passion and energy and would move on to a new setting. Or a second pastor who could not answer the previous question. In two subsequent conversations there was still no commitment, but on the third contact, he told me there was no use in pursuing the process with his church. When I probed why, he said he had been terminated. They saw through his lack of leadership and decided for him!

Second, what are the past and present trends of the congregation? Statistics and

data from past records and annual church profiles offer a decent look into historical and present trends. Also, there are congregational analyses that offer information by way of the Church Health Survey, staff and personal interviews, demographics, worship service observations, facilities and parking observations, “secret shopper” evaluations, social media assessments, church document reviews and community interviews. These may provide a clearer picture into present trends and the congregation’s reputation in the community.

Third, a weekend congregational workshop encourages members to remember the probable factors that ushered the church into this crisis. They unpack the history of their world, their community and their church. They get to realistically discuss the influencers that have forced both positive and negative impacts on their church. It sheds light on the factors that influenced church strengths and expose areas requiring adjustments and reinforcement, plus they are required to compile possible solutions and Continued on page 62 35

The Only Numbers You Should Be Counting in Student Ministry By Drew Cheyney Continued from pg 18

that monthly number will truly tell you how you are measuring in the lives of people. Lastly, there is only one other category worth tracking and it is serving. One of the best ways for our students to act out their faith is to serve weekly and frequently in an area of the church or community that they are passionate about. Serving is a great indicator that can tell you if what you are doing is having an effect in your students’ lives. You see, what your ministry does will always change, but the way you inspire students to take next steps in their faith by impacting others is consistent and you need to care about this number because it ties your students to not just consuming what is going on at your church, but it makes them owners of what is going on in your ministry.

bed for, the only numbers worth comparing and stressing out over, are the ones we have discussed in this article, and to fool yourself into thinking that success as a leader is 500 students who show up twice a year when you have big events is to trick yourself into counting the wrong numbers. You see, if you execute in the three categories worth counting then not only will your ministry be successful in God’s eyes, but it will grow, and it will be healthy, and it may just be sustainable, and when it all comes down to it, those are the only reasons counting matters in ministry.

So there you have it, the only numbers that should actually matter to student pastors. These three categories are worth counting in your student ministry weekly. In some seasons of ministry you may be crushing it in all three of these areas (First Time Guests, Salvations & Baptisms, & Serving), and then there are other seasons of ministry where they may not be happening as much.

Drew Cheyney is the Associate Youth Pastor at Element Church in Wentzville, MO and is a frequent writer on Revitalization of Churches through student ministry.

The only numbers worth staying up late in

“Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1: 6-7 36

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Revitalization Game Changers Ever feel like you are spinning your wheels in trying to revitalize your congregation? You have tried so many ideas and attended more than your fair share of renewal conferences. You have implemented new programs that did not change anything. You read everything you can on leadership, which in turn triggered in you a sense of inadequacy as a pastor. And yet you still want to see your church make a kingdom impact. You want to see your inward-focused congregation becoming reapers in the harvest. You want to see unchurched people cross the line of faith.

What if I told you this is simple?

By simple I do not mean automatic. Nor do I mean easy. By simple I mean that what you need to do is within your reach. That it will not require another seminary degree or hiring a specialist on staff to accomplish this. You probably will need to learn some things that seminary never taught you, but then, you’ve already figured out that seminary didn’t teach you a lot of things you needed to know. What you do need to know is what I call the Four Game Changers. Instead of trying to fix symptoms, game changers tackle the foundational reasons why so many churches are plateaued or declining. Each addresses an aspect of healthy church culture. So if you are 38

going to lead your church in revitalization, here are the key elements that really change the game.

Addressing Unfinished Business

I recently heard a pastor share his revitalization story. He took a wounded church from 40 to 70 in the first year. The second year it grew to 200. Then it downsized to 100 when the leaders with whom he surrounded himself became his opponents. I wondered how this story would have ended had he started by training his leaders to deal with their unfinished business. Discipling people to address their unfinished spiritual issues is your first game changer. Ignore this at the peril of upending everything else that follows. Address it and it will lay a solid foundation for the congregation to make and retain more disciples. What is unfinished business? It is the combination of the hurts we accumulate from living in a world full of people affected by the Fall and the way we have comforted our hurts with sin choices. The hurts and sin bond together within us produce all kinds of unhealthy outward symptoms. Some congregations are so full of unfinished business that pastors cannot even interest them in revitalization. The takeaway is never to make

By Steve Smith

assumptions about anyone’s spiritual life, even if they are a leader. Never assume that your preaching by itself will be enough to address this reality in the lives of those you pastor. Don’t even make assumptions about your own unfinished business. Make it your first order of business to discover how you will lead the church to surrender what is unfinished in themselves to God. Only then will the church be ready for change.

Finding Implementers

No pastor has all the gifts necessary to revitalize a church. You need partners. This is the second game changer. Seek out those I call ‘implementers’ to do what you are not gifted to do. I have this talk with every pastor I coach in revitalization. Most pastors are wired to preach, shepherd and lead. Building the teams and systems the church needs to make and retain more disciples requires different skill sets. And yet, many pastors never seek out a partner to help them, which is why they continue to pastor smaller churches than they could. Implementers are detail people who have an eye for organization and structure. They recognize and promote leaders, form teams for ministry and generally enjoy the challenge of building the road to the hill you sense God wants your church to take. Note that I call the implementer

a ‘partner.’ You do not need another leader. You need someone alongside you who has been granted the appropriate authority to do what needs to be done. Someone who shares your vision and passion for the future of the church. The good news is that God has already placed someone in your congregation to serve as an implementer. After teaching the pastor how to look for an implementer, before the coaching session was over every single one knew who they would ask. One recruited a NASA shuttle load coordinator. Another had a successful business woman volunteer. Find your implementer and revitalizing your church will take far less energy and time.

Redefining and Focusing Vision

The church vision statement is a 20th century phenomenon. Taking our cue from the business world, churches began putting in a sentence or two what the church’s mission was all about. Except . . . the statements did not help us accomplish much. Many church visions go something like this: We exist to make passionate disciples of Jesus so we can reach the world with the gospel. Talk about forgettable! And if you doubt me on the forgettable part, ask your people what is the church’s vision. If you are going to lead your congregation in revitalization, understand the real problem of

most vision statements is that no one is seeing anything. This is not like Jesus in the gospels. Everywhere he went he saw people who needed him. He saw Zacchaeus in the tree. He saw the multi-married woman at the well. He saw the crowd as helpless and harassed and felt compassion for them. Then he told his disciples that the fields were ready to harvest. They needed to pray God would send out reapers. Here is why the third game changer is about redefining and focusing vision. The reason churches stop growing is that no one in them sees lost people anymore. Or if they see them, they are not friends with them. So the harvest field no longer deeply matters. No one prays for lost people by name. No one invites lost people to church. But if you will pray and guide your church to see the lost, make friends with the lost, plan a way to be with lost people so they can sow the gospel and reap the harvest, your church will grow. And this is the best part. It doesn’t cost the church a lot of money to impact the lost this way.

Multiplying Shepherds

The fourth game changer is multiplying shepherds. Churches often falter in their growth because of this one issue. This is because they historically have depended on their pastor to do all of the shepherding. And so he does. As a result, the church can only grow to the number of people

with whom the pastor and his wife can personally build deep relationships. The average ranges from 40 to 60 people, which is why 60% of all churches are under 100 people. You have to redefine your pastoral role to change this. Instead of being the main shepherd, you need to see yourself as the equipper of shepherds. By training people to shepherd others in the congregation, you free up your time to lead the church. You also make it possible for more people to enter and be connected to the church. All four of these game changers are simple. You can quickly learn them and put them to work within your congregation. They can profoundly reshape your congregation from indifferent to engaged. If you want help with The Four Game Changers, contact Dr. Steve Smith at:

Steve Smith

is the founder of ChurchEquippers Ministries. He is the author of several books including The Key to Deep Change and the Increasing Capacity Guidebook. He is a strategic thinker, a relational networker, a mentor and coach to pastors and young leaders.


Best Practices: Take Personal Retreats with God In order for revitalization to happen in the church, the leader must be revitalized first. This “best practices in church revitalization” article will introduce what I believe is a crucial first step in leading this process in your ministry context. God first needs to prepare you to lead revitalization. In essence, the revitalization process begins with God rewiring you. In high school, we boys used to prank each other by switching around a couple of spark plug wires on our old trucks, which would cause them to backfire and pop and smoke. It didn’t take long to realize something was terribly wrong when we tried to start our trucks, and it didn’t take long for us to learn to quickly rewire them correctly. I still remember the firing order on my old truck (1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2). In order for an engine to run correctly, it must be wired correctly. So many times, the problems that are manifested in the church are the direct result of miswiring in the life of the pastor. We may be active and busily engaged in ministry, and yet not doing exactly what God wants us to do. You see, God has to change you first before He will change your church and ministry. This is a universal truth in the manner in which God works – He always changes us dramatically before He will use us; there are tons of biblical examples of this universal truth. The same truth is present in the church revitalization world. Again, God wants to change you before He changes your church. Put another way, if God isn’t at work in your own life, then He is not going to be at work in your revitalization efforts in leading your church. Of course,


every leader is different and every situation is different, to be sure, but here is one activity that is extremely beneficial to the revitalization leader. I have prescribed this activity numerous times and have had a lot of success with it. Please let me walk you through this, and then I’ll explain why it is so important.

I Want You to Go on a Retreat with God First, get out your calendar

right now and plan a 48-hour retreat at the first possible opening in your schedule. Don’t look for the best time or the least busy time, find the first available time. If you put this off, you probably won’t do it. How long has it been since you’ve been on a retreat with God for the expressed purpose of just hearing from Him? In reality, you need this time of refreshing. You need wind in your sails again. Some of you are so frustrated that you are considering changing churches or leaving the ministry altogether. That’s how serious this problem is. Find the first available time to spend no less than 48 hours alone with God. Like I said, stop right now and plan a 48-hour retreat with God at the first possible opening in your schedule. Do it now.

Second, find a place where you will have absolutely no human contact for the 48 hours. For example, a church campground, retreat center, or hunting cabin may be ideal. It is very important that you are completely alone with God. Find a place with no television and no internet. This is not a retreat for you to go fishing,

hunting, or hiking either. Think of it as a spiritual retreat. The only person that you should interact with for the next 48 hours is the Lord. Take your Bible, but not your laptop. You will leave your cell phone locked in your car. Leave all your other books and reading materials at home. Take plenty of writing paper and some pens, and that is all. Take your food with you on the retreat, so you don’t have to go out for meals. Don’t order in a pizza – remember, you have to be alone with God. It’s not a time to focus on food either. Many leaders find it beneficial to fast during this time to focus their hearts on His will during this retreat.

Third, after you arrive, spend

the next 48 hours praying, reading the scriptures, reflecting, and writing what God lays on your heart. Block out lengthy times to get down on your knees and pray. Prostrate yourself and pray aloud if you want. You are alone with God and no one will hear. Praying aloud often helps us to articulate our frustrations and concerns, and it also helps keep our minds from wandering. Concentrate your scripture reading in the book of Nehemiah, which is a book about revitalization, particularly revitalization leadership. Read, reflect, write, and pray. Don’t skip over any of the chapters of Nehemiah, though I know that some of it is challenging to read. There are nuggets of truth in every single chapter. Write down what comes to you as soon as you think it. Jot down the buzz words quickly because ideas will pop into your head in bunches. You can go back later and fill in the gaps

By Terry Rials in your journal. Write down what you believe the Lord has shown you in His word. Write down what God wants you to do and to be. This is not a time for writing sermons or developing future Bible studies. This study is designed for you personally, not for preaching when you get back home. Instead, write what God lays on your heart in journal fashion. This is not the time to write out your grand vision and strategy for church revitalization either. Just write what God is revealing to you and about you. It is for you and you alone. Sharing comes much later.

Fourth, plan another retreat

after you get back home. You will both want it and need it after the first one. Same rules apply as before, only plan to study a different book (Ezekiel, Jeremiah, or Ezra). I believe you will find these spiritual retreats so beneficial that you will want to plan them into your yearly schedule. Why is a retreat like this so important? You will rediscover that you really need time alone with God. Delmore Schwartz said, “Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.” Time is our most treasured commodity today. The great leaders in scripture made time for God. Jesus is the greatest example – He would go off by Himself alone to pray, do battle with the enemy, and prepare for the hour to come at the cross. Moses would go up on the mountain for weeks at a time, learning to lead God’s people. Daniel would retreat into his closet and pray three times a day, facing toward Jerusalem from Israel’s captivity. Paul went away into Arabia for two years in order to prepare

himself for his ministry. Nehemiah sat down and prayed and fasted for days, and ended up lasting for four months. God did something amazing in each man’s life in each case. You will be reminded of the serious lack of prayer in your life. Jesus taught us to pray at all times and not lose heart. Yet we, like His closest disciples, fail miserably when we should have been praying the most. I know we all pray regularly, but we do not always pray faithfully, sincerely, or deeply. If pastors are going to be refreshed and churches are going to be renewed, they must rediscover the intimacy with God that prayer affords. You will also discover this about yourself – that you were very tired. You will probably discover exactly how tired you were when you think about how much time you spent sleeping on the retreat. I think that many pastors hover on the verge of exhaustion most of the time. Like Paul, we too are burdened by the daily concerns of the church. Those concerns can interfere with our ability to rest and refresh. Part of the wisdom of this retreat is that we rediscover the old work smarter, not harder principle. When we are well-rested and fresh, our minds are clearer and ready for God’s work. You will become intimately acquainted once again with your sins and shortcomings. Hopefully, you will experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit and spend a considerable amount of time in confession of sin and repentance. Throughout the Old Testament, shepherds were decried for their short-comings and selfishness. I

have to believe that same problems persist today in the shepherds of the church. You will discover that what happens in you during the retreat is noticeable by others – certainly your spouse with notice, but your friends and your church will too. People can tell when you have been with God. Your preaching with have power, passion, and conviction like never before. You will preach as if you are trying to change the world again. Henry Blackaby reminded us that God has always been speaking, but I believe we have not always been listening. When we stop long enough to listen to the Lord and reflect on how He has moved in us, we begin to experience a time of refreshing. Refreshing is the activity of God that happens in the life of an individual, revival comes to the church, awakening comes to the nation, and reformation comes to the world. Revitalization is the leadership we provide to the church after God has refreshed us.

Dr. Terry Rials

is the founder of ChurchRevitalizer. com, serves as the Senior Pastor of the Crestview Baptist Church of Oklahoma City, and leads the Church Revitalization Team Leader for Capital Baptist Association. He earned his doctorate in Church Revitalization at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a frequent conference speaker. He is co author of The Nuts & Bolts of Church Revitalization!


The Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal Pastor, You Are Not Immune to Temptation and Sin

As a teenager, the pressure to fit in overwhelmed many of my friends raised in Christian homes. As a teenager, the idea that some would walk away from Christ seemed understandable. Yet, when they were close friends that had clearly confessed the gospel and seemed to show evidence of salvation, it hurt. As I entered Bible school in my early twenties I felt a sense of relief. Having made it through those tumultuous teen years, those friends and I that were walking with the Lord had made it. I do not mean we had arrived in a sense of spiritual maturity, but, it seemed logical, at the time, that those of us confessing the gospel that made it into our twenties with a clear Christian testimony were likely safe. This was not to say we were safe from temptation or heartache in general, but, at the time, it made sense that we had weathered the most difficult spiritual time period of our lives. And, those of us continuing to profess Christ would likely continue. As a young man in my twenties, this made sense.

The Reality of Sin

By the time my thirties rolled around, the heartache of watching teen friends walk away from the Lord was replaced by a fresh round of casualties. Close friends during Bible college saw their marriages dissolve, and another round of friends walked away from the Lord. This time, those walking away from the Lord were not simply troubled teens, but friends that seemingly evidenced clear testimony of


loving Jesus as maturing adults. Many of these friends and I had spent hours upon hours together studying for Bible exams. Friends and associates from my years in Bible School have since committed any number of heartbreaking sins. Some have attempted or committed suicide. Others have had affairs, including sleeping with prostitutes. A few seemed to just drift away from the Lord, not overtly rejecting the gospel, yet, step by step doing so by means of incrementally adopting a secular lifestyle. Others, facing severe crisis, completely abandoned the faith. Several began to attack the faith they once supported.

The Tenacity of Sin

With another decade passing, and just a few years until I reach my fifth decade of life, I continue to watch another round of friends walk away from the Lord. As I have grown older, my circle of friends has changed. Watching friends fall into sin, or walk away from Christ never gets easier. In some regards, the sadness only increases. Watching lifelong friends crushed by sin and abandoning the faith never gets easier. One would think I would learn that no one is immune to sin and the pull of the world, yet, there is a sense where I continue to be surprised. No longer am I watching awkward adolescent teens struggling with their faith. Now, many of my friends have been serving in full time Christian ministry for years. As I reflect back on my teen years and into my early twenties, how I wish those that fell away during those tumultuous teen years

By Chad McCarthy represented the worst casualties. Such has not been the case. With each passing decade, the world has found ways to worm itself into the lives of close friends, friends who had outwardly shown every apparent sign of living a committed Christian life. Pastors and leaders with decades of ministry under their belt succumbed to sin and temptation. In doing so, many have been disqualified from the ministry. Some have left the Christian faith altogether.

Guard Your Walk With Christ

As a pastor or church revitalizer, never forget the present tense reality of the gospel. A failure to maintain a current, vibrant walk with God guarantees future pain. All too often, the busyness of church leadership overwhelms life. When we allow ministry fires to overwhelm our first priority of maintaining a fresh, daily walk with God, this practice virtually guarantees a spiritual attack on our lives. Just as military strategy often works to remove their opponent’s leadership, so the Devil practices spiritual warfare by focusing on Christian leadership. Best practices in Christian leadership and revitalization require a commitment to maintaining a consistent, current, walk with Christ.

Guard Your Family

Pastor’s children so frequently react to the lack of quality time and attention they receive that the antics of pastor’s children have become cliché. Just as your first priority as a church revitalizer is your own personal walk with God, your first ministry priority is that of your fam-

ily and children. Do not destroy your family for the sake of pursuing ministry. Virtually no Christian leader sets out to destroy his family. The weight of ministry generally starts small, and over time, grows little by little. Best practices in Christian ministry require a Christian leader intentionally prioritize his own family as his first ministry calling. Just as church leaders must personally engage in regular prayer, Bible reading, study, and mediation— purposely applying these truths to his own personal life, so also, best practices require Christian leaders intentionally prioritize family ministry as the first and most important ministry calling.

Guard Your Purity

Few Christian men or women serving in Christian leadership intentionally set a course pointing in a direction that clearly leads to sexual sin, yet, Christians leaders routinely disqualify themselves from continuing in leadership by engaging in this particularly insidious sin. Best practices in church revitalization and Christian ministry strongly suggest men and women should never be alone together with a person of the opposite sex. The writer of Proverbs warns the believer that one of the most effective means of preventing sexual sin, is to limit temptation (Proverbs 5:1-13; 6:20-35). Protect your moral purity, your family, and your ministry by refusing to spend time alone with a person of the opposite sex. Do not even eat lunch in a public venue where the meeting entails only you and a person of the opposite sex. Best practices guard your sexual purity.

Guard Your Integrity

Guard your personal integrity with the same fervency that you guard your sexual purity. Compromising your integrity will ruin your ministry as quickly as sexual sin. Effective church revitalizers bathe their ministries in grace. Yet, the apostle Paul describes one area where best practices require a swift response (Romans 16:17-18). Church revitalizers often serve within a volatile atmosphere and will not receive the same level of latitude often given an established pastor in a healthy congregation. As such, church revitalizers must act quickly to address those creating division in the local church. Paul instructs Christian leaders to avoid them as much as possible, and, when warranted, those causing division must be

addressed (usually more quickly than slowly) through biblical church discipline. Those creating division will often attack church leadership. Best practices require Christian leaders closely guard their integrity.


No matter your age or experience, no Christian leader ever becomes immune to sin or temptation. Protect your ministry by guarding your personal walk with Christ. Protect your ministry by guarding your family. Protect your ministry by guarding your purity. Protect your ministry by guarding your integrity. Run a good race. Win many for the kingdom!

Chad McCarthy is the lead pastor at Faith Baptist in Chetek, Wisconsin. Prior to pastoring in Wisconsin, Chad served in church planting for about fifteen years. He has also spent time on the mission field teaching English as a second language. He earned his Master of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is working on his Ph.D. in Missiology through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chad is passionate about how discipleship fuels biblical church revitalization. Chad is married to Heather. They have six children.


Three Church Revitalization Myths (And 3 Best Practices to Overcome Them) Thirty years of coaching/researching church revitalization has taught me there are many revitalization myths, but I’ve also found a best practice that can overcome most.

Myth 1: Your church can reach out to a growing demographic in the community. Best practices 1: You must start by reaching out to a demographic closer to your demographic.

Many churches try to reach out to a growing demographic, just because it is growing nearby. But this often leads to a failed turnaround. For example, an aging/wealthy Anglo church wanted to reach out to young African-Americans. However, their effort fell flat because of many cultural differences between the aging white population and the young African-American population. To reach out to young blacks required the aging-Anglo church to cross at least two cultural barriers: a generational cultural barrier (from old to young) and a racial cultural barrier (from Anglo to African-American). Trying to bridge too many culture-gaps doomed the turnaround. The best practice is to bridge one cultural gap at a time. They began to reach out to younger Anglos and encourage them to bring their multicultural friends. This strategy of aging-Anglos reaching out to young-Anglos, required crossing only one cultural divide: a generational barrier. Once the church had reached out across this first cultural barrier (generational), they found that younger generations were


reaching across the racial barrier and the church began to grow with a multicultural audience. The goal is to reach out across cultural barriers and bring about reconciliation (as John Perkins advocates). But it’s a best practice to start with small cultural barriers before larger ones are attempted. Jesus’ ministry was mostly (i.e. Luke 7:1-10, Mark 5:1, John 4) focused on his Jewish neighbors (e.g. Matt. 10:5-6, 23; 15:31). But in His omniscience, He knew that once His fledgling disciples had begun bridging gaps between Judean Jews, Hellenized Jews and Samaritans, that the Council of Jerusalem would apply principles learned to their non-Jewish Roman oppressors. Developing cultural sensitivity and intelligence takes years, if not decades. Though I have a PhD in Intercultural Studies, I am still in the learning process. Therefore, having long-term objectives to reach across large cultural chasms and bring about reconciliation is important. But is also important to start with short-term goals to reach across much smaller cultural gaps, learning how to bridge them and bring about reconciliation on our way to bigger goals.

Myth 2: New pastors should change things right away. Best practice 2: New pastors should build credibility by conducting a thorough analysis before implementing change. As vice president of the Society for Church Consulting, I polled church consultants and asked when was the best time for a new pastor to

By Bob Whitesel implement a major change. Most consultants said within the first 6 to 12 months. But, in my practice I noticed that making major changes in the first 18 months often doomed change. Failure occurred because the “change proponent,” a leader pushing for change, often overlooked the importance of attaining the social capital necessary to be trusted by church people who were reticent about change. ”Status Quo” is the name often applied to attendees reticent about change, and I’ve noticed that many are older members. To understand them, I conduct focus groups with them at every consultation. I’ve learned they’re not opposed to change for others, but they are opposed to change in their areas of the church. As they age they experience growing “instability” in their lives: finances are not stable, friendships are not stable as people die/move away, and their health is not stable. In reaction, they want worship, liturgy and/or structure that adds some stability to their lives. When a change leader tries to change a familiar liturgy, culture, etc., these older members fight back strongly because they need the stability a church can provide. Best practice is for the change proponent (such as the new pastor) to first demonstrate they understand the status quo. One method is a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This not only lets the congregation know the leader understands the organizational weaknesses - but also its strengths. A SWOT analysis involves meeting with congregants as well as with people in the exter-

nal community to gauge the internal and external views on the congregation. An accurate analysis can take 12 to 18 months. But afterwards, not only will the change leader have earned social capital with the status quo, but also the leader will know which areas should be left untouched to grant the status quo stability in their increasingly instable lives.

Myth 3: Growing neighborhoods are a good place to evangelize. Best Practices 3:

Growing neighborhoods usually result in quick, but fickle transfer growth, but any neighborhood can be reached with conversion growth. Today there’s a popular strategy to plant churches in growing neighborhoods. And increasingly it’s common for church revitalization to be focused on churches in growing communities. However, these churches are often growing when people move into these areas and transferring their membership/attendance to a new, nearby church. Such “transfer growth” is important because sheep must be folded and fed (Isa. 40:11, Ez. 34:10, Jn. 10:11-14). But transfer growth sometimes gives a false sense of health to a church that is mostly growing because of an exchange of members. A downside is that transfer growth due to accessibility may at sometime in the future mean they may transfer their membership again because

of self-interest. For instance, a new children’s ministry in a nearby church or a better music program at another church, may attract them to leave the church to which they have transferred. I’ve observed that this creates growing communities with a growing number of church shoppers. Donald McGavran, the founder of the Church Growth Movement, called this “transfer growth” and pointed out that Jesus’ Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) will never be fulfilled by transfer growth alone… it requires “conversion growth.” He stated, “By transfer growth is meant the increase of certain congregations at the expense of others… But transfer growth will never extend the church, for unavoidably many are lost along the way” (Understanding Church, p. 72).

explain the way of salvation. I’ve witnessed that growing churches are often filled with people who have been taught how to share their faith and the sinner’s prayer. This means equipping church members with an ability to explain the Four Spiritual Laws, the Four Steps to Peace with God, The Roman Road, etc. One easy-to-utilize method is for pastors and small group leaders to preach/teach for consecutive weeks on each one of the Four Spiritual Laws (or Four Steps to Peace with God, the Romans Road, etc.). Then on a fifth Sunday, give an opportunity for people to give their lives to Christ. This is an effective way to instill both an example and the knowledge in the church member about centrality of salvation.

Growing by “conversion growth” implies that either a duly equipped preacher or duly equipped members are explaining the Good News in a way that calls for a decision by the hearers. And while I applaud gifted preachers who can explain the Good News, I believe healthy churches will be filled with congregants that can do so. A best practice is to teach church attendees how to explain conversion to their friends and family. I’ve found many congregants can tell you about their church history, their style of worship, etc. but few can

Bob Whitesel (D.Min. and Ph.D., Fuller Seminary) is a sought-after speaker and award-winning writer on organic outreach, church leadership and church health; who has been called by a national magazine, “the key spokesperson on change theory in the church today.” Author of 11 books in 12 years, he serves as the founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and holds two doctorates from Fuller Theological Seminary. The recipient of two national McGavran awards, he is a nationally respected consultant helping churches grow and regain health. 45



54 % O F P A S TORS

find their rol e f r e q u e nt ly


( L if eWa y R e s e a r c h S tu d y, 9 /1 /1 5 )

Quick Self-Assessment: Are you part of the 54%? Are you able to move forward and execute your vision for the church? Are you feeling a sense of failure or loneliness? Do you wish you had a friend or coach who knows what it’s like to be a pastor? YOUR PASTORAL SUPPORT TEAM Utilize Our Organizational Tools & Services to See How Much Less Stressful Ministry Can Be Thanks to the giving of our foundation partner, we are here to serve you. 46 | | 386-866-0622



February 8

Criswell College, Dallas The focus for 2018 is reaching the generations in revitalization. Our focal theme is on assisting the local church address specific generational needs in its context without neglecting those who are still present. Speakers will address engaging the various generations in a reaching and discipling ministry.





David Fedele

Reaching Gen Z

Johnny Derouen

Reaching Youth

Pastor of Adult Mobilization, FBC Colleyville

Senior Pastor, FBC Mustang, OK

Mitch Tidwell

Collegiate Evangelism Associate, SBTC

Grant Skeldon

Initiative Network Founder

Kenneth Priest

Convention Strategies Director, SBTC

8:30am - 4:30pm Keynote Speaker

Jonathan Falwell

Senior Pastor, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA

Speaking on

Ministry in a MultiGenerational Church



Reaching Collegians Reaching Millennials Reaching Gen X

Chris Shirley

Reaching Boomers/Builders

Chris Enright

Technology for the Generations

Professor of Discipleship Dallas Baptist University

Information Technology Associate, SBTC

Lance Crowell Church Ministries Associate, SBTC

Disciplemaking Among the Generations 47

Repurposing with Purpose What We Can Learn from Southwest Airlines While on a recent Southwest flight as my wife and I were coming home from visiting our kids and grandkids at Christmas, somehow I found myself on a four hour flight having finished reading the books I had with me, which was not good! Desperate to read something I pulled out a copy of Southwest The Magazine which, of course, was located in the seatback in front of me. While perusing the magazine, I came across an article which grabbed my attention entitled, “Repurposing With Purpose.” According to the article, Southwest Airlines has developed a program where they work with organizations nationwide to repurpose certain items. For example, old seat covers are repurposed and given new life through programs that serve veterans, youth and people with disabilities. Southwest also has partnered with a Florida Rotary Club to repurpose 5,000 life vests which were sent to fishermen in Uganda. And retired Southwest aircraft which are not sold are sent to Arizona where 85 percent of the aircraft is recycled. So when it comes to repurposing with purpose – what can pastors and church leaders learn from Southwest Airlines?

Repurposing with Purpose – Today’s Churches

Repurposing with purpose brings powerful hope for churches which have either plateaued, are in decline, or might even be on the brink of death. There are at least five approaches to repurposing


today’s churches with purpose. First is revitalization. This is the approach where the church has the people, ability and resources to do the hard work. The process for revitalization may range from minor adjustments to a major overhaul of systems and structures. A second approach involves partnerships. The church establishes a covenant with a strong healthy church or churches to provide help for a specified period of time. The stronger church or churches may choose to provide support through prayer, people and resources. A third possible repurposing approach is to join a satalite or multi-site church. The church which needs to be repurposed becomes a part of another church which has a “one church, many locations” strategy toward fulfilling God’s mission within a certain community or region. A fourth possibility is a merger. There are times when two churches find themselves in a situation where a merger provides the necessary people and resources to revitalize into one new church. And finally, repurposing with purpose can involve a restart or replant of the church. In this case, the church works with leaders in a cooperative effort within their particular denomination so that a new ministry based on local context can be launched utilizing its established facilities in its current location. Whichever approach is deemed most appropriate for a church, the following question must be considered, Is there a biblical basis for repurposing with purpose God’s

By Darwin Meighan churches today? The answer is a resounding YES. Repurposing with purpose is exactly what Nehemiah did in the city of Jerusalem. He repurposed broken-down gates and walls. He repurposed a community of faith that was far from God. Nehemiah provides nine transferrable and timeless principles for today’s revitalizers as they lead their respective congregations to repurpose with purpose under God’s divine direction, leadership and authority. If you would like an electronic copy of Repurposed The Nehemiah Model: Developing a Strategic Plan to Revitalize Your Church, email me at This resource is a manual containing the following nine scriptural principles for pastors and church leaders to use within their own unique ministry context as they seek God’s leadership in the process of revitalizing their church.

Relentless Prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11)

Drawing from Nehemiah’s lifestyle of relentless prayer, he gives us four prayer principles which prepare the revitalizer for the biblical process of repurposing with purpose.(1) Recognize who God is – God is high and exalted (2) Repent of all sin (3) Recall the amazing promises of God (4) Request help from God for success.

Recognize God’s Window of Opportunity (Nehemiah 2:1-10) The second step for the revitalizer is to discern God’s window of op-

Three-Pronged Leadership in Revitalization By Scott Brown The call to be a church revitalizer is a hard call and, although church revitalizers can come in many varieties and skillsets, there are three qualities we must seek to show in our leadership among God’s people as we are working toward revitalization. Ecclesiastes tells us, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Likewise, a pastor who emphasizes the following three roles in his ministry will be more likely to find his leadership stronger, durable, and enduring. First, we are to lead from the front. Borrowing a sports metaphor, we are to be the coach of the team to whom God has called us. They have to believe we know the plays and that we not only know where we are going (that’s vision) but that we can guide them there (that’s leadership). Leading from the front means that we are championing the mission of the church by dreaming, casting vision, and inspiring others to follow. When I was ordained, my pastor challenged me by stating that the leader will either be a sparkplug or a flat tire. My friends, be the sparkplug! There are few hindrances greater to a revitalization than flat tire preachers. If you are the flat tire in your church’s revitalization effort, it is time to either change or be changed. As we seek to lead from the front, we must be careful not to charge so far and fast ahead of our people they mistake us for an enemy and open fire. This is where the second prong is utterly necessary. We must lead from the middle, as a team captain working alongside the team for every victory. I strive

portunity and timing to move forward with the process. A window of opportunity is a relatively brief period of time during which an opportunity must be seized or it may be lost. Understanding God’s timing in the process of seeing him revitalize your church is huge.

Recovery: Getting Beyond Life’s Ruins (Nehemiah 2:11-20)

With this third principle, the revitalizer is tasked with the responsibility of understanding the unique ministry context and culture God has called him to repurpose. Questions to consider include, “What really is going on in our church?” “How did we arrive here?” “What would God have us to do?” “What do we really know about

to never miss a work day, to arrive early and leave late, and be among my people as much as possible. There is a saying, “The shepherd must smell like the sheep” and nothing can be more important to a church revitalizer than to get dirty and work hard among their people. We must pastor without a safety net and without an escape plan. This should go without saying but, we must pastor our people well. They will follow you farther and harder when they really believe you love them, and you must love them! While we love them as their pastor, we will also take on the third prong of being the cheerleader for our people by leading them from the back. Celebrate every victory and minimize every failure. Barnabas is our obvious example in Scripture as someone who leads from the back, pushing others to find their gifts and pushing them to outshine even himself. Encourage your people every chance you get, celebrate even the smallest victories, praise God publicly for all He does. A great tool I’ve used is the Soul Winner’s Candle. This is a candle I place somewhere very visible in our sanctuary and whenever someone is saved as a direct result of our prayers, service, sharing, or sacrificing then the one most responsible comes forward to light it before the service. When we see that flame, we celebrate like we are trying to drown out Heaven. This has served to build momentum, celebrate personal evangelism, and give us another excuse to celebrate Jesus together. If you want to see your church come alive then you must be coach, captain, and cheerleader. These three prongs together in you, as pastor, will give power to your leadership and change your church for His glory and for good!

the community God has called us to reach?” A thorough prayerful examination here uncovers the honest, brutal facts – creating urgency for God’s people to change.

Releasing the Power of God’s Team (Nehemiah 3)

Fourth, the revitalizer prayerfully pours his efforts into forming a revitalization team. In chapter 3, Nehemiah provides an example of the synergy, teamwork and the collaborative environment God uses to repurpose his church.

Refocus: What to Do when Attacked by Spiritual Opposition (Nehemiah 4:123)

Throughout the Jerusalem repurposing project, Nehemiah and

God’s people were met with both external and internal opposition. When opposition does come, Nehemiah offers several key weapons for overcoming it. First, is the spiritual weapon of prayer. Second, stay focused on the work God has called you to do. Third, assign watchmen to pray. Finally, seek to maintain unity among God’s people.

Resolve Relational Conflict God’s Way (Nehemiah 5:1-13) Churches who find themselves in need of renewal, over the years have developed unhealthy patterns of behavior for resolving relational conflict. During Nehemiah’s repurposing project, major conflict broke out among the people. When this

Continued on Page 56 49

Small Groups to the Max Leaders: Finding Them and Keeping Them The greatest challenge to any Small Group or Sunday School is finding the needed leaders. Of the many Laws of Small Groups, the Law of Workers has to be a foundational principle for any successful small group ministry. It is a true statement “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” This fact requires that we have a very strategic plan for recruiting and training leaders. I would like to share with you the plan I have used for over 30 years with great success.

Basics of Recruiting Never recruit anyone before checking with the PASTOR It is important that

you check with your pastor before you approach someone about teaching or leading in an area of your small group ministry. Many times the pastor will know personal or private things about people that would keep them from being suitable candidates. Also, he will have a sense of how the potential leader would or would not fit in the total leadership scheme.

Recruit Year Round The big-

gest mistake many leaders make that have the responsibility of recruiting the small group team is waiting until a few weeks before the classes start and trying to round-up teachers. This will lead to desperate recruiting and a willingness to take anyone. 50

However if you make recruiting a habit and give attention to it year round you will discover the best potential leaders and it will give you adequate time to train them.

Getting Them Out of the Raw

Look for diamonds in the rough. There are three basic principles of discovering potential leaders that are in plain sight: • Crude Oil - Find people not working. Ask key leaders for recommendations. Many times your current active leaders will know who has the potential to lead from their interactions with them from week to week. • Prayer List - Pray for Them. Develop a list of potential leaders that you are praying for year round. It is amazing what the Lord will do in a person’s life as we pray for them, even those that have told you no in the past. • Refined Oil - Train Them. Every time you have a training event for small group leaders invite prospects you have that could be future leaders. Many times people will say “no” because they don’t have confidence that they could do the job. Training can refine that crude oil.

Don’t Recruit to One Year at a Time Recruit Indefinitely. I am of the opinion that all positions in your small group ministry are a calling from God, especially the teacher. If this is a calling from God then we do them a disservice if we don’t ask them

By Fred Boone

to take the position indefinitely. This is a God given ministry that they should cherish and pour their life into. They should work toward developing their skills and continually improving their mastery of their calling.

Steps to Recruiting 1. Small Group Strategy Team

Start by recruiting a team to help you in the recruiting process. A recruiting team will give broader input to the process and will provide more possibilities. The team could consist of paid staff or be made up of volunteers. The first meeting should only consist of prayer. Pray for the process and ask the Lord for wisdom as you begin to consider possible leaders.

2. Check Church Roll

Print a copy of the church membership roll for every member of the Small Group Strategy Team. As you begin to look through the membership list you should only ask two Questions: • Could they do it? Not will they do it. • Are they morally fit? The purpose of this process is only to develop a list of possibilities. You really are not thinking at this point about what area they would serve in, only could they serve somewhere. After you develop your list, then you begin to pray about the specific areas that you

think they could serve effectively. Once this is determined then you go to the next step.

3. Go to Them (don’t recruit them over the phone or catch them in the hall)

Make an appointment to see them. Don’t tell them why you are coming. Just tell them that it is very important and you need to talk to them in person. It is best if you can do it in their home. Being on their turf will give them some comfort during a very important meeting.

Don’t take it lightly

• Take the material they will use. (Curriculum & resources they will be using) Show them the material they will be using. This will give them a better understanding of what you are asking them to do and let them see the material that will help them. • Tell them: “We believe you are the one for the job.” (Because you prayed for them) Explain to them that you don’t have a plan B. If they turn you down you have to start all over again from the beginning. • Cover expectations. It is important that you have standards with expectations. This is a key element to recruiting leaders that will stand the test of time and fulfill the job you expect. Remember we must “inspect what we expect.” • They will want to pray about it. Most times they will want to pray

about the position. Encourage them to pray and lead them to pray while you are there. You want to try to get a commitment from them before you leave. If they won’t commit while you’re there then you go to the next step. • Make a follow-up contact in person. It is imperative that you make the follow-up visit in person. It is too easy to say no over the phone. You must be proactive in the process. •Have a final prayer with them. Whenever they commit have a final prayer and thank the Lord for their commitment and pray for their success.

4. Affirm them through the Year – the final step in “Keeping Them.”

• Send a birthday card. • Visit their group & affirm in front of the group. • Recognize special accomplishments. • Annual “Leaders Appreciation Banquet.” Recently I have been using a new resource to help discover potential leaders in our church. The program is a cloud based ministry profile assessment and inventory tool. Once a church sets up an account they are given a custom website where their members can log in and take five assessments: skills, passion, experience, DISC profiles and spiritual gifts and five inventories: musical talents, teaching experience, ministry experience, languages you speak, and professional licenses you hold. Then a report

is generated with possible ministry opportunities they would be suited for. The church also gets the report and has access to a database with all the results. When I follow this process as outlined here I have had the greatest success in the recruiting of committed and faithful leaders. There is no question that the greatest challenge to the local church is the discovery and deployment of leaders that are team players ready for the great adventure of building a church for God’s glory in the 21st century.

“The Art of Leadership is catching a person at the height of commitment. When a person makes a commitment to Christ put them to work.” Leon Kilbreth

Fred Boone is the Executive Pastor and LIFE Groups Pastor, First Baptist Church of Mount Dora in Mount Dora, FL.


Don’t Put Off Evangelism: Reach Your Entire City I’ve heard too many pastors of churches in need of revitalization say that their church is not healthy enough to do evangelism. That is like saying that you are too sick to breathe! There are a lot of things you can prioritize out of your church’s busy calendar, but if you cut evangelism, you’ve cut our your heart. If your church stops doing the very thing that will bring new life, then she be set on a trajectory of certain death. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

For the Sake of the Church Your church exists to make disciples. Discipleship is the result of evangelism and discipleship results in evangelism. Evangelism is the heartbeat and the true love of the church. In Revelation 2:4, Jesus warned the Church at Ephesus that if they did not return to the evangelistic and church multiplication passion of their early days, then they were in danger of loosing their church all together. The reason that your church is not growing is that the heart of your church is not beating, and you cannot just write that off as your church not being healthy enough to do evangelism. As Calvin Whittman once 52

said: “Of all the endeavors of humanity there is only one which carries an absolute promise of God’s unending blessing: The expansion of the Kingdom of God. When we share our faith and make disciples for Christ, He has promised to bless our efforts, to multiply them and to give us success. But why then have some 80% of churches in our country either reached a plateau or are in decline?”

For the Sake of The City

Right now, I am immersed in an effort to reach every home in our city with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It started as a prayer several years ago. While reading Acts 19:10, I realized that God used the church at Ephesus to take the gospel, not only to their entire city, but also to every person in their region. Paul had gone to Ephesus to preach the gospel in the Jewish synagogue. Many Jews believed his message and started following Christ. However, some of them rejected the gospel and had Paul expelled from the synagogue. Paul took the new disciples with him and rented a school building. It was there that he started the church at Ephesus and trained the Ephesian disciples in evangelism and church multiplication. (Acts 19 1-9). By the time we get to verse 10 of Acts 19, we see this curious comment by Luke: This continued for two years, so

By Mark Weible

that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:10) When I read that verse, I started to pray that God would reach my city with the gospel. I began to imagine what Orlando, Florida would look like after every person living here has heard the gospel. I could imagine a day when Orlando was saturated with the gospel, saturated with churches and saturated with people living out the commands of Christ. I could see a day when every one of the millions of people visiting Orlando would, at some point, encounter an evangelistic follower of Jesus. Beginning with the end in mind, I realized that I had just received a vision from God – a future reality that Orlando would one day become known more for Jesus Christ than Mickey Mouse.

Share the Vision of Evangelizing Your Entire City Of course, I realized that it would take more than one person to make that vision happen. I began to share it with everyone one I met. I shared it over and over again until people got sick of hearing it. I shared this vision far and wide – not only with people in Orlando, but with people all over America and the world. I prayed the prayer that Jesus commanded us to pray in Matthew 9:38: “…therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Everywhere I went, I found people who had a similar vision. I met people who understood the strategic importance of reaching Orlando for the sake of global evangelization. I discovered that we shared a common vision for not only reaching this city that draws nearly 70 million visitors a year, but also we saw the potential for reaching the world from Orlando.

From Vision to Reality

Now, I am seeing God answering my prayer for workers for the harvest. I am seeing people step up who have the resources to fund a citywide outreach campaign. I am seeing people like James Dobson and Steve Douglas endorsing our effort to saturate Orlando with the gospel. We have a team of people coming from Canada, who are committed to helping us to reach every home in Orlando over a one week period in March, 2018. We have a system and process set up so that local churches can reach their own neighborhoods without any financial investment. All that they have to do is to provide the volunteers. I am seeing churches working together across denominational lines to develop strategic alliances for gospel advancement. If not every person, at least every household will encounter the gospel this year in Orlando.

Taking it Home

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slow-

ness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. II Peter 3:9 So, how can your church take the gospel to every person in your community? Well, it starts with reading scripture and gleaning from it what God wants to do in your neighborhood, community, city and region. Next, you have to pray. I remember asking God, “Do you really want every person in Orlando to hear the gospel?” Ask God to give you a vision for reaching your city. Ask Him to show you what it will look like when the vision is completed. Share the vision with everyone everywhere and by every means. Take note of people who buy-in to the vision and be prepared to work with them. Be open to surprises - don’t expect God to do it in your way and on your timetable. Believe that God wants to do it and that He will do it through you

and your church.

Souls are at Stake!

Don’t let Satan dupe you into thinking that evangelism is a luxury that your church can’t afford right now. Remind yourself and your church that if you can’t do evangelism, then you shouldn’t be doing anything else at all. Whatever is sucking up your time or your resources needs to be purged from your list of priorities. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to take care of the people that you have before you can have any more people. A lack of evangelism will kill your church from the inside out. Not only will you not grow, but your people will dry up and blow away without purpose and without motivation. Oh, and don’t forget those lost souls who need to come to Jesus!

Find out more about Saturate Orlando at:

Mark Weible serves as the Church Planting Di-

rector of the Greater Orlando Baptist Association and the strategic Director of the Renovate National Church Revitalization Conference. Mark has a wealth of experience as a church planter and local church coach. Mark is passionate about church multiplication, renewal, planting, and coaching.


Living in Two Worlds In 2013 I began the revitalization process at my current church. When I began to assess the scope of change necessary for vibrant health and impact, I had to consider two areas that should be interconnected but usually are worlds apart – the Community and the Church. In looking at Best Practices for Revitalization, the student, pastor and practioner must look at both of these worlds. In Church Revitalization we talk about Church Exegesis – this means that we have to look at the context of the Church. As pastors we often talk about doing Biblical Exegesis when doing our sermon preparation. The same techniques used in sermon preparation can and probably should be used in doing both Church and Community exegesis’. Exegesis as we have been taught is reading “out of the passage” not reading “into” the passage. Let the passage speak in other words. The same must be said for the Church and Community. A quick look at some suggestions when looking at a bible text: 1. Establish the context of the passage in the biblical book as a whole. 2. Establish the historical setting or context for the passage. 3. Analyze the Content of the text. 4. Apply a variety of critical methods to analyze the text in 54

both its content and its context. 5. Analyze the text theologically 6. Add your own analysis and/or application. We pastors are most familiar with our church setting; even to the point of making some judgments of what is wrong. A word of caution here. A quick diagnosis can lead us to see only the surface symptoms of the problem. I have stated that both Church and Community must be addressed in a Revitalization effort. I say this because both environments have stories to tell. I have been taught to “find the rest of the story” in problem situations. Until there has been an exhaustive search to find the “why” of our cultures, we cannot adequately address the cure. I will start with the Church exegesis first: 1. What is the History of the Church? How did it get started? Are there charter members still active? 2. How many Pastors has the church had? What were the reasons the clergy staff left? 3. Have there been any splits or conflicts that caused significant loss of members? Heresies or doctrinal issues? 4. Is there accepted immorality in the church, past and present? 5. What is the attendance,

By Jim Grant

baptisms, growth numbers; do they show a cycle or stagnation? Transfer growth or reproductive growth? 6. What are the demographics of the Church? Aged? Racial mix? Incomes –blue vs. white collar? 7. Has there been a time when God was visible working in the life of the church. [Revitalization is like revival; you cannot revive what has never been alive] 8. Are there power struggles in the Church? 9. Are finances or other leadership decisions cause for current problems? These are just some basic questions to ask. Be willing to ask the hard questions and don’t look for your own preconceived answers. Then interview people – all people. The way I did this was by getting the church involved in the life of the church. We held Town Hall meetings to discuss problems and solutions. Rather than look for people to talk – I chose to have them write down their thoughts. I placed poster board all-around the sanctuary and had people go write down what they thought the issues were and possible solutions. Then I reported back what they said. This helped the church to see a new reality of who we were. This is a beginning step. Churches often need to see themselves for who they really are, not for who they think

they are. But don’t stop with just looking at your church. Look at the local denomination, how is it doing? How are other churches in your area working? Is there growth or are they experiencing much of the same issues as your church? Secondly, is the Community Exegesis? There are many similarities between what was done with the church. However, this work will pay great dividends as the community discovers that your church is genuinely interested in what they think. Community leaders are trying to find the same answers as Pastors are – specifically what is the problem with my city/church. I established a Strategic Planning Team of seven people. We then outlined an approach of how to exegete our community. We found that people were more than willing to talk with us. We interviewed Mayors, school principals and district superintendents. We talked with social service agencies, city councils and businesses. Our focus was to find out what was important to them. What issues were they struggling with? Our last question to them was “How can our

Church help you?” This all gave us insight into who our cultural community was and their needs. We did have to assess such topics as housing markets; were new houses being built or stagnant? The population had to be considered, are people moving in or leaving? The economics of the community – were businesses closing or opening/expanding? We left no area out – we talked with the police to find out what kind of crime and drug problems they faced. All these areas affected our community, but also greatly influenced our churches in the community to minister. Lastly, we did demographic analysis of our community and compared who we the church was in comparison to the community we were called to ministry. We took the data from both environments, complied and analyzed all of it to find out more of who we were, who our audience was and where we were missing the ministry mark. It was only until we could realistically see both cultures that we could develop a comprehensive plan to bring life back to the Church

and effectively minister to the community. Once we developed the plan, the implementation was more difficult. While churches will say they want to minister to the community around them; often there is an additional wall built to keep out the “undesirable” people. The cure for this attitude came about by inviting the friends we made doing the community exegesis. Once our church began to put names and faces with the community, they found that many of the issues the community was trying to correct directly related to our own Strategic Plan. All that I have written is very brief, for the whole process of getting started and accomplishing this work took months. There are no easy solutions, but there are solutions. Find out who God has put around you in your location. Community and Church exegesis is a wonderful way of beginning the Revitalization process.

Jim Grant is the Lead Pastor of Heartland Baptist Church in Alton, Illinois. He is a veteran with 25 years of service in the Air Force. His extensive travels, while in the military, allowed him the unique ability to have served in the full spectrum of churches, styles, and health. Jim is also the Gateway Baptist Association Revitalization Team Leader. 55

Repurposing with Purpose What We Can Learn from Southwest Airlines Continued from pg 49

happened, Nehemiah chose to deal with relational conflict God’s way. Church revitalizers must sharpen their skills for leading change, while also navigating and managing conflict God’s way. Managing conflict God’s way includes: (1) Yielding to Christ’s leadership and control. (2) Praying and working with the goal of restoration in mind. (3) Resolving conflict privately. 4) If necessary, resolve conflict publicly.

Reaching Life’s Goals: Enduring Principles for Finishing Well (Nehemiah 6:15-16)

In just 52 days, Nehemiah led God’s people to rebuild the gates and walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah chapter 6, verses 15-16, says, “So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Revitalizers who desire to finish well their task of repurposing with purpose, remember: (1) Pray continually (2) Commit to God’s purposes (3) Live passionately (4) Plan thoroughly 56

(5) Include people (6) Be willing to persevere, many times even at great cost.

Revival: Can It Still Happen Today? (Nehemiah 8-10)

In Nehemiah, chapters 8-10, genuine revival breaks out among God’s people. Under God’s leadership, true biblical repurposing with purpose leads to: (1) a renewed hunger and thirst for God’s Word. (2) spiritual cleansing as God’s people cry out to him through prayers of genuine repentance. (3) behavior begins to match their beliefs. (4) Out of genuine renewal, God next calls his church to covenant together, which demonstrates an outward expression of God having first place in their lives and in his church.

Repurposed: God’s People Celebrate! (Nehemiah 12:27-47) When God does choose to repurpose with purpose among his people, this is great cause for celebration. Even though we are

By Darwin Meighan

truly the most blessed people on the planet, celebrating together is not something we do well in the church. Revitalization leaders today must lead their churches to celebrate the wins because we worship and serve a God who is repurposing his people for the very purpose of having greater effectiveness toward fulfilling the Great Commission of making disciples who make disciples.

Closing Thoughts – Repurposing with Purpose

When it comes to repurposing with purpose, Southwest Airlines is on to something. The company indeed is making a difference in the lives of people and organizations throughout our country and around the world. However, with God on our side as he repurposes our churches with purpose – the forward movement we can make together in his kingdom is life-altering, life transforming and absolutely an impact exponentially that is out of this world!

Darwin Meighan served the Lord as a local church pastor after 31 years. The past two years, he has been serving as a revitalization specialist and speaker at the local, state and national level. As a coach and practitioner, he encourages pastors and churches toward the process of renewal and hope – guiding them in the journey of rediscovering their God-given purpose and mission of making disciples which embraces an outward focus of engaging their community, culture and world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You may reach Darwin at



The first edition of the Revitalizer Library for 2018 focusses on two works that have a few miles on them. First, Mike McKinley’s book Church Planting is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-Up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things (CrossWay, 2010). The second book is From Embers to Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church (P&R Publishing, 2008) by Harry Reeder III with David Swavely. Neither are brand new publications but are great additions to the Revitalizers Library. After reading the introduction I scribbled in the margin, “I think I will like this book. So far, I like this guy.” To give a sample of why, look at what McKinley writes in his introduction, “It would be my joy, if, by the time you are done reading this book, you’re thinking, If God can use this moron, surely he can use me as well!” (12). McKinley’s subtle, but on point, self-deprecating humor ranges through this work. His casual writing style gives the reader a sense of being in on a conversation more than digesting words on the page. Second, I usually do not read many church planting works. The journal you are reading is not a journal for church planting but church

The second book in this edition’s reviews is the work by Harry Reeder with David Swavely, From Embers to A Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church. Published in 2008, this reviewer’s copy has highlights, notes, and is flagged for easy reference. Reeder’s work was one of the earliest books this reviewer read in his revitalization journey. In this book, Reeder builds a case for revitalization, outlines the biblical paradigm for revitalization and details a ten-part strategy for revitalization.

revitalization. This section is reserved for books that influence church revitalization leaders. Why then a book with the title “church planting” being reviewed? Simply because the wrong title has been given to the book. McKinley’s work is about lessons learned through the revitalization of Guilford Fellowship. The subtitle would be better phrased How God uses Messed-Up People to Revitalize Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things. Each of the chapters transparently follows McKinley and his wife’s revitalization journey sharing their struggles, the strain that was placed upon their marriage, and the joy of a revitalized church. The chapter entitled “So, How Exactly Does One Plant a Church” compares the advantages and disadvantages of church planting versus church revitalization. He makes a strong argument for the former. This one chapter should be read by everyone considering church planting or revitalization. McKinley interned with Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist. His book bears the IX 9Marks insignia. This reviewer has tremendous respect and admiration for both Dever and 9Marks. I would like to be like Mark Dever when I grow up. All that said, I have certain expectations when picking up a book related to 9Marks. I expect a high emphasis on the sovereignty of God, an appeal for a strong exegetical preaching ministry, a priority for the local church and an urging for the pastor to practice longevity. McKinley’s book does not disappoint. McKinley’s central strategy for revitalization

There is a distinguished tone that emerges from Embers to Flame. With surgeon-like exegesis and gentle pastor care, Reeder details why revitalization is critical and what steps should be taken to move towards being renewed. The early strategy is to learn from the church’s past. He writes, “A revitalization pastor will learn from the past in order to live in the present so that the church can change the future” (38). Often those who remain in the church will freely and often remind the revitalization pastor of the past. It is though the revitalization pastor’s job to know and interpret and lead the church into the future. Often moving into

is the preaching ministry. The regular, week inweek out preaching of the word awakens the slumbering church. The one thing the church needed was to have God’s word preaching in a clear, systematic and compelling way (47). The danger of this strategy is for the revitalizer to only be concerned with the pulpit ministry. That they would cloister themselves away emerging only when the sermon is ready to present. Thankfully McKinley does not embrace monastic approach to preaching for revitalization. What McKinley uniquely stresses is a balanced pulpit in his revitalization strategy. He stresses the priority of systematically and exegetically preaching the word of God, and then he takes the crowbar to the room that needs remodeling. The word of God is ready to be preached, then he addressed the toilets that have not worked for years. The sermon is solidified, and the lost are sought. The tendency of some revitalizers is to rush into a work and focus on the obvious problems of properties, programs and personnel. Revitalizers must remember that the spiritual plumbing of God’s people must be addressed alongside the plumbing of the building. McKinley does a great job of clarifying priorities and balancing the obvious work with the less seen. McKinley’s book is a great read. Good humored, well thought out and reasoned. The reader will walk through his journey of being called to revitalization work and the process itself. A good mark for a book is the desire to meet the author after the reading is done. This reviewer certainly would like to meet Mike McKinley.

the future will require repentance on the part of the church. In matter such as repentance is where Reeder’s pastoral heart shines. Reeder addresses spiritual matters of the church; a task often missing from revitalization works. Many works on revitalization move quickly through a process of diagnosis, prognosis, and prescription while pausing very little to examine the spiritual rebellion and sin that may be the source of the decline. Reeder raises a tremendous yield sign causing revitalizers to slow down and look at the church with Continued on Page 58



of vision but a great introduction.

sequenced process.

Holy Spirit enabled eyes.

The greatest push back this reviewer has is the how broad the ten-point strategy is. The strategy presented serves as more of a philosophy for ministry than an action plan. Each piece of the strategy is interdependent of the other. The reader will need to embrace all ten points as their modus operandi verses a

Reeder’s book was one of the earliest revitalization works this reviewer was exposed to. Much water has passed under the bridge since then. The work still stands as an excellent read and an incredible addition to the revitalizer’s library.

Chapter seven, Staying on Mission with Vision, is one of those chapters that all church leaders should read. Reeder in simple but compelling tones outlines how a leader can begin to develop a vision for the ministry they are in. Certainly not exhaustive in matters

Reaching Generation X Not a lot is said today about GenXers. Much of our attention is focused on what has been considered the emerging generation of millennials. However, even that emphasis is neglecting GenZ which is coming on strong and is in need of developing strategies to reach for Christ. This is beginning to occur with a new Barna conference launching in January 2018 for this purpose. A great emphasis has been placed on Boomers over the past decade as this once largest population group (now surpassed by millennials) was beginning to transition into retirement years causing many to ask the question of moving from success to significance. Part of our issue in not talking about GenX, I believe, is the lack of ability to stay focused. Our attention has drifted from GenX to the next big issue, and we have not realized that our strategies to reach this generation were not followed through with. Therefore we end up with an aging populous of unreached people, forgotten for the sake of the next generation. Don’t get me wrong, we should always be concerned with reaching the next generation. However, we should also always be concerned with


Book Reviews by Rob Hurtgen

By Kenneth Priest reaching the present generation. Essentially, the church should focus on multi-generational ministry through the lens of evangelism. So what are we to do? In order to bring some attention back to my generation, the following are my thoughts on reaching GenXers. First, who are they? Born between 1961 and 1981, this group of now middle-aged adults have been defined as Survivors, Busters, Slackers, Baby Bust, Gen X and Generation X. Of course this generation did not like any brand, in fact the nomenclature Gen X was given as the letter “X” initially as a joke referring to the unknown in the algebraic equation. They were unknown; what they liked, what they wanted, no knowns for them when they were given this brand. They have survived a “hurried” childhood of divorce, latchkeys, open classrooms, devil-child movies, and a shift from G to R ratings. They came of age during a rise in youth crime and fall in test scores—yet heard themselves denounced as so wild and stupid as to put the nation at risk. As young adults, they maneuvered through

a sexual battlescape of AIDS and blighted courtship rituals—they date and marry cautiously. In jobs, they embrace risk and prefer free agency over loyal corporatism. From grunge to hip-hop, their splintery culture reveals a hardened edge. Politically, they lean toward pragmatism and non-affiliation, and would rather volunteer than vote (taken from Stauss and Howe research on generations). Population wise, this generation was the most aborted generation as abortions levels increased drastically after Roe v. Wade in 1972/3. This is the generation which pushed employers to embrace technology in order to assist them to get work completed faster, in an attempt to avoid the early mornings and late days which they experience from their parents as latchkey kids. This generation chooses travel over traditional home ownership. Theyh invest money on experiences in life and are not as concerned with the previous version of the “American Dream”. There was a spiritual awakening during their generation; think Jesus Movement. However, many

of them were too young to have been greatly impacted or experienced benefit from it, except through their parents spiritual journey. This group represents 27.4% of the population in Texas right now or approximately 7,672,000 people (nationally this number is over 60M); with 68% of the population seen as lost, this means 5,216,960 GenXers need Christ in Texas (beginning thinking nationally and we see over 45M needing to be reached). Our churches must shift our focus from reaching a singular generation to reaching all generations. There is a mid-group of Xers referred to today as Xennials; they bridge the years of millennials and GenX; somewhere around 1977-1984 for their birth years. Essentially this is the group which was educated analog, but whose first jobs were digital; making their education immediately obsolete upon graduating college. Reaching GenX is difficult. Disenfranchisement with institutionalized thinking did not start with millennials. GenXers are the ones who started the path of not looking for a career but rather working a job at a company…therefore commitment to the organization wains with this group. The impact to the church is persons who do not “buy-in” to church as previous generations had done. They are skeptical. Their parents went to church and divorced; they do not see how religion helps…after all their parents were religious and

they failed in life. So to reach the GenXer, we have to help them understand relationship. This is something Xers crave. They desire to be in community. Pastors need to preach “how to” sermons. It is not only about biblical content, but how the Bible is relevant to their lives today. How can the Bible help them live out more impactful lives. The church needs to teach life skills. The top end of Xers are confronted with aging parents who will live longer and the possibility of the on-going need of extended medical care while dealing with boomerang millennials who are moving back home after college due to the job markets present shift. Xers need training on how to plan more effectively for this. Additionally they look for community engagement; therefore an “on-mission” church, working in the community will engage them in spiritual conversations.

Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal

Evangelism engagement should be focused on methods such as “Walk Across the Room” or “SPLASH” or other relationship evangelism methods. Equipping existing GenXers to reach others in their peer group will prove the greatest benefit. For the church today, we need to begin a reaching ministry among all generations. I hope this small article helps you to begin thinking about who in your community are you not targeting.

The church is open to new relationships.

By Tom Cheyney Worship engages people in praising a living God who is present in the services. There is a great effort towards developing a connecting community. Believe ministry is collaborative. Believe discipleship is a better choice over the consumer Christian mentality. Favorably seek to become deeper and more spiritual over the prevailing decline towards spiritual maturity. Membership is focused on being true disciples and followers of Christ. Church leadership understands change is part of real and lasting revitalization. Pastors practice spiritual disciplines daily.

Secrecy is not part of this new effort but clear communication is. The church willingly makes any changes necessary to align itself with what it perceives God is calling it to be. Prayer is a necessity for renewal within the congregation.

Kenneth Priest serves as the Director of Convention Strategies for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in Grapevine, TX. He holds a Doctor of Educational Ministry degree with an emphasis in Church Revitalization from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO. He serves as an adjunct professor of church revitalization in the doctoral program with MBTS and an adjunct professor of evangelism and church growth with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. Please contact Kenneth at


When People Leave: The Private Pain of The Small Church Pastor Even if the church is large and growing, it can be hard when people leave. But when the church is small, each loss is much more painful. It’s hard when people leave a church. It’s hard to leave. It’s hard being left. Most who leave don’t make that decision lightly. They deal with some serious pain when they finally make the decision to go. As a pastor I’m more familiar with seeing good people leave the church than being the person who goes through the pain of leaving, so that’s what I want to address in this post. If you’ve been a pastor for several years, you’ve had to deal with your share of such departures. Each one hurts. It’s especially hard when those leaving are long-term members. The collective pain from years of those departures can wear a pastor down. Even if the church is large and growing, it can be hard when people leave. But when the church is small, each loss is much more painful. When a small church loses just one family it can mean massive changes in entire ministries.

First, there’s the math. The per-

centage loss is much higher than in a bigger church. When a small church loses just one family it can mean massive changes in entire ministries.

Second – and most difficult – it’s not just a drop in attendance, tithers or volunteers. It’s the loss

of people we know. People we’ve invested in. People we’re friends with. And that hurts.


No Answers, But Maybe Some Solace

When I raise an issue, I like to provide solutions. But today’s article is not about answers. It’s a public recognition of our shared private pain. With the hope that we can find some sort of solace by knowing we’re not alone in these feelings.

By Karl Vaters

3. It Hurts When They’ve Been Friends

Here are some painful truths many pastors feel when people leave:

Not everyone in your church needs to be your friend. But some should be. Yet a lot of pastors resist having friends in the church because when they leave, it’s really painful. Ellen Jacobs addressed this issue poignantly from the perspective of a pastor’s wife in her blog post, It’s Hard When Friends Leave. Here is some of what she wrote.

1. It Hurts When People Leave the Church

Whether the reason for leaving is bad or good, it leaves a wound behind.

There are two realities about pastoral ministry that we cannot change: 1) People will leave the church. 2) It will hurt when they leave. We can deny those truths or acknowledge them. Denial gives them power and allows the next departure to surprise us – and hurt us even more. Acknowledging it… well, at least we can remove the weapon of surprise from this nasty beast. 2. It Hurts When It’s Someone We’ve Invested In Sometimes it seems like the people who are most likely to leave the church are the ones we’ve spent the most time with, helped through the hardest trials and seen the most progress in.

I understand that people need a fresh start after they’ve been through some emotional and/or spiritual trauma. But it still hurts to invest all that time, energy, emotion and compassion only to hear them say buh-bye after you’ve helped them get healthy again.

So what do we do? I think we mourn for a while, perhaps a long while if needed. We ask God to dress our wound. We process, we pray, and time goes by. And you know what we don’t do? We don’t write that person off. We don’t forget all the good that existed in that friendship. We don’t subconsciously (or consciously) vow to never open ourselves up to people again.

4. It Hurts When They Leave Without Telling Us Why

Church consultants recommend doing exit interviews to help us understand why church members left. That’s a great idea. In theory. Exit interviews work well in larger churches, but it’s one of those principles that doesn’t transpose smoothly into the smaller setting. Exit interviews work well in larger churches because the person conducting the interview probably doesn’t know them personally. But it’s one of those principles that doesn’t transpose smoothly into the smaller setting. When people leave a smaller congregation, who should conduct the exit interview? The pastor they now have

an awkward relationship with? The deacon they’ve been gossiping with? The new family who barely knows the church and the issues involved? No. In a small church, the pastor calls and/or emails the person they haven’t seen in a while to ask if they’ve been sick or on vacation. Even though we have a strong suspicion of what’s really going on. If they answer the phone or return the email, that’s our exit interview. And it can be very awkward and painful – for both sides. If they don’t return emails or phone calls – which happens quite often – there’s nothing to do but feel hurt for a while, then soldier on. The silent, unanswered departure is never easy. Since this post is about making private pain public, here’s a hard truth that I’ve heard some small church pastors admit to each other. We don’t always make that call when we know what the answer will be. We know we should, but we can’t always handle the rejection. So, to all the church consultants berating pastors for not following up when members leave, we get it. We know we should make those calls. But it’s not always because we don’t care. It’s because we care too much.

5. It Hurts When They Bomb Us with Every Reason Why

This is the other side of the silent departure. The pastor gets a “we need to talk” call. The truth is, small church pastors want to know why people are leaving. We really do. But that final talk is often a great source of additional pain to us. Especially when the problem is with something we did – or

failed to do. In my three-plus decades of ministry, these have been some of my toughest moments. People who I thought were doing well and were happy in the church sit down with me and pull out a piece of paper listing all the offenses they feel they’ve endured over the last few years. Some are legitimate. Some are really not. All of them are painful to hear. But the most frustrating thing about the “here’s every reason why I’m leaving” conversation is…

6. It Hurts When They Don’t Give Us a Chance to Make Things Right

I wish people would tell me about their problems when there’s still a chance to make things right! I’ve been through too many meetings where: • I didn’t know there was a problem until now • The problem would have been fixable if I’d known • It was just a misunderstanding that we could have easily resolved But it’s too late now. They’ve already made their minds up to leave.

7. It Hurts When They Leave for Another Church

It’s especially hard when they leave the long-term, healthy, faithful, smaller congregation for the flashier, new, big church. But it could be worse…

8. It Hurts Even More When Don’t Go to Any Other Church To lose someone from our church is hard. To know they’ve left the church entirely is unspeakably heartbreaking.

9. It Hurts When They Avoid Us Later

Many small churches are in small towns, or in tight neighborhoods where people run into each other in the store or at civic events. If I could give one word of advice to church members who leave, it would be this. Unless the pastor of the church you left is a toxic, controlling monster, you don’t have to look away awkwardly when you run into us or one of our family members on the street. Our relationship may have changed, but we’re still members of the body of Christ. We may gather in different buildings on Sunday, but we’re still on the same team.

Karl Vaters has been in pastoral ministry

for over 30 yeears and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 23 years. His heart is to help pastors of small churches find the resources to pastor their current church well and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a small church. 61

Where are You?

By Tracy W. Jaggers

Continued from pg 35 suggest concerns that might block the future effectiveness of the renewal process.

Fourth, is inventing the battering rams that can be utilized to knock down the hindrances, barriers and blockades to future success. The Holy Spirit is the greatest

revealer and the most powerful bulldozer ever! He must be our source and He must have control over all we think and do and say!

Ask the Hard Questions

Here are five probing questions and thoughts that can help determine where you are, even as you are reading this article: 1)Are you the one to lead this venture or should you step down and hand it over to more eager and capable hands? Is this the right time? Are these people willing to be moved? 2) Have you cleaned yourself up? If you are not confessed up and intentionally seeking the power and presence of the Lord, then maybe no one should be following you at this moment! 3) Are you running in the direction God is going? Make certain you are not demanding the congregation to follow you, if your path does not mirror His. God’s direction is true; it lasts forever and leads to life everlasting. 4) Are you worried that your friends will make fun of you? You may be growing a church that is uncomfortable for them, but if it is sealed with the Father’s approval, who cares what they think! Stand strong, stand up, stand out and live boldly for His glory. 5) Are you listening to the voice of God? Listen to the voice of God first and then go His way! Don’t be a Jonah. Are you looking for Tarshish? Is there a great fish awaiting your disobedient carcass? 62

It has been said of old, “There are few atheists in foxholes,” but for the Christian it is more apropos to say, “There are few happy campers or satisfied inhabitants in a great fish’s belly!” Run with God and you’ll always be running right! Our process is not perfect, but our God is! Finally, let me warn you about the attacks of the enemy. Nehemiah had the threats of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem to deal with while trying to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem, and the devil will do his best to throw threats and discouragement your way as well. He will mess with your mind by saying you are done, washed up, burned out and finished. But the Lord says we are overcomers and victors. I read the back of the Book and WE WIN! Christ has already won the battle, so follow Him. Where do we start? RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE! RIGHT NOW! If you know where you are and where He is leading you, then you don’t need a GPS or a map. Don’t go it alone. Get help and follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership. Don’t procrastinate, hesitate or make excuses. All you need to succeed is IN Christ! So I’ll ask once more - Where are you?

Tracy W. Jaggers

Associational Director of Missions Gateway Baptist Association, Edwardsville, Illinois. Tracy is an adjunct professor with Gateway Seminary in CA. He earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in Church Revitalization from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. He is a frequent blogger and writer for state and national revitalization websites and magazines, and is an active speaker in state and national revitalization conferences and webinars.


Continued from pg 10 talization process. Commitment to participate in leading the church to a greater focus on and personally become involved in the harvest. Commitment to implement the agreed upon initiatives that are agreed upon in the church revitalization process. 5) Commitment to Share the Vision and keep the church connected to what is happening – Remember our call is not to invent the future but to discover what God is doing. Our call is to align ourselves with his purposes in the expansion of God’s kingdom. The ability to articulate a clear, practical, transformational vision which answers the question, “Where are we headed?“ Watch out for vision fatigue! 6) Commitment to Bringing About Healthy Change – Change builds upon an urgency and vision for a new community. There must become this feeling of holy discontent where the gap between the current realities and God’s ideal plan are heightened. Churches are prone to insular thinking and a denial of reality. There is a great need for building a sense of urgency and a healthy momentum for change. Healthy preparation is directly connected to a healthy outcome. Shared ownership is a prerequisite to change. 7) Commitment to Influence the Culture where the church is located – Your church has been divinely placed in a specific area and it is important that the church do everything possible to influence the areas of culture. When the local church dismisses the cultural mandate as an insignificant part of the Christian life, seperatism and piety increase while having the ability to influence the cultural di-


minishes. But if Christians learn and embrace the gospel and partner with God in restoring and redeeming His creation, their cultural influence will follow and the Good News will spread. 8) Commitment to Develop Influencers within the Revitalized ChurchInfluencer: is anyone who is able to exercise significant influence over the people, the focus or the future of a church, ministry, or organization. Many people within any given church hold the power. While some hold positional influence there are those who have collective influence which trumps those with positions every time! Influencers can change congregational behavior by supporting or boycotting ministries, withholding resources, or using their influence to influence votes. Commitment to Develop Influencers within the revitalized church – These powerbrokers are the single most important shaping factor in the history of the church. Influencer Types: Opinion setters – those who hold the power because of visible influence in decision making. Gatekeepers – some hold power by keeping things from happening, preventing issues from being aired or addressed. Tenure is often a way a gatekeeper exercises control. Understanding an influencer’s frame of reference can be the key to helping him become a positive part of the future direction.

Seven Types of Influencers within Your Church! Notice that some are positive and some are negative: + Encourager: Ability to affirm people and process. - Blocker: Struggles with changes and methodologies or change. - Resister: Reacts with skepticism and doubts. + Vocalizer: Able to articulate issues and express insights. + Innovator: Drawn to the new and untried. - Defender: Speaks on behalf of the existing. - / + Maintainer: Desires the enhancement of the current state. 9) Able to manage the conflict that will surface during church revitalization – Conflict will occur as Church Revitalizers seek to bring about change. Remember that God causes all things to work together. There is purpose even in conflict. God builds greater spiritual authority through conflict. Conflict and problem solving are not synonymous, however every conflict requires problem solving skills at some point. If you are going to succeed in church revitalization the Church Revitalizer must stop allowing a small vocal minority to dictate what the church will or will not do! Conflict is inevitable in church renewal and revitalization. Conflict is often the prerequisite for change. Conflict defined: Conflict is a problem to be solved that includes personalities and emotions which have lined up in opposition to each other. In fact, a conflicted situation usually contains multiple problems.

Continued on pg 66


Ten Best Practices in Church Revitalization Efforts Continued from pg 64 Four Steps to problem solving: define the issues, explore the options, plan the solution, and take action to ensure results. Consider the possible agenda’s the following people of your church might have: -Core Family member -Lead Pastor -New Attenders -Remaining Staff -Denominational leaders The three types of conflict which often occur in your church: Conflict avoidance: Refusal to acknowledge and/or deal with conflict. Conflict hibernation: Hidden below the surface, peaceful, but problems will resurface later with greater intensity if left unresolved. Conflict crisis: Eruption; crisis due to unresolved agendas. Four categories in which ministry conflict can surface during church revitalization – Leadership Style – issues of expectations Relationships and personality – issues of people Vision and faith – issues of leadership Need for and pace of change –


issues of growth 10)Creating A Synergy of Energy This is a time, that calls for a critical mass of transitional church revitalization leaders who will commit to creating a synergy of energy within their circle of influence so new levels of spiritual success can be reached. As the pastor you are called to lead the church but do not be surprised when you are looked at strangely because you are providing leadership for your church. Many pastors serving churches have been taught a passive style of leadership. You were told or taught that you should gather the consensus of the church, ask them what they want to do, and then help them find ways to get that work done. Revitalization Lesson: It is my firm belief as a pastor that my pastoral leadership style has been the main human reason that my churches changed and grew. It is my conviction that churches do not change because of committees or resources or even renewal consultants. It is because God brings a leader into the situation and equips that leader to do the job. It is God who chooses to bless the leadership abilities of that revitalization leader! Church Revitalizers lead by having: -the right attitude -the right skill sets for turning a church around -the ability to motivate others to follow their leadership

-the focus to keep the church moving towards its goals. -wanting the “ball” in the critical minutes of the game. Revitalization pastors function best when they are not driven by fear: -Fear of being fired -Fear of needing to find a new -place to minister -Fear of pleasing everyone! -Fear of splitting the church. -Fear of people leaving the church under your leadership “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 Revitalization Lesson on FEAR: Revitalization pastors function best when they are not driven by their fears: The only fear that God encourages in a believer’s life is the fear of God. 2 Cor. 5: 10-11; Fear of man does not come from God! Many leaders fear people more than they fear God! Heb. 10:31 Their fear keeps them from pleasing God because they are wasting their efforts on fearing man. Paul reminded the young minister Timothy that fear of others does not come from the Father! Fear causes us to stop and question what God has clearly told us to do. Many leaders are confident in their obedience until persecution comes. Then they doubt that they have heard God unmistakably and appropriately. Most fear is of

the unknown! Then we become apprehensive and hesitant. Fear is no excuse to disobey God. Fear will enslave you but Christ can set you free! Revitalization Lesson: Most churches in need of revitalization,do not grow under the leadership of the “nice” leader! Seldom will it grow when a leader is more interested in cruising along then in leading boldly! A pastor must be open, honest, firm, straight forward, able to confront problems and manage conflict and loving towards everyone. The Top Twenty Pastor-to-Pastor suggestions (gathered from 1000+ Pastors & Church Revitalizers @ the Renovate National Church Revitalization Conference 2014) -Know and love your people. -Preach the Gospel of Jesus. -Pray and enable your people to pray. -Help your people reach out to others. -Help them dream of what they can be for God’s glory. -Work hard; nothing comes easy! Work smart but rest well. -Accept yourself and your people and press on. -Be patient; new life grows slowly. -Hold on to and hold out your vision. -Celebrate the good that is happening. -Go ahead and risk new ideas and programs. -Know and love God. -Teach God’s purpose as found in the Bible. -Train people in evangelism, multiplication and church growth! -Get yourself and others out visiting.

-Take key people with you to training events. Start with a committed core; don’t wait for everyone! (Run with the Runners!) Read about and study churches that are growing that are similar in size or just a little bit larger than your church. Set goals and move towards a strategic plan. Delegate all you can and enlist new people. CLOSING THOUGHTS Casting vision and keeping the church outwardly focused is a constant endeavor for the revitalization pastor. Lasers work better than light bulbs in church revitalization! Select a target group to help your church reach out into the community. Lasers are focused. Every Christian has a gift to be utilized in the work of ministry. Numerical growth is the least certain mark of church growth and renewal. Yet the church is not growing without numerical growth. Growth and health do not happen by accident. You must be intentional about both. Churches who are revitalized first begin with a revitalized laity spiritually. Give your people some tools and then get out of the way and let God work! Spiritual disciplines are better caught rather than taught. Stop looking for plug and play solutions (programs) and start looking for ideas that will work in your setting. In the area of church revitalization and renewal it is extremely important to realize that the goal is

not to win the battles or wars, but to enable a congregation to move as united as possible into its own new future! Please Oh Lord, please! Start changing the way you find direction. Seek God’s agenda first and His direction. MY Observations from the list: Timing occurs to be an issue often in the process. Their appears to be a sense that they rushed too soon. Many sensed they were caught in a predicament and had no way out. Resistance to advancement never fully disappeared. Listening to the pulse of the congregation ought to be the work of the many and not the few.

Best Practices for Renewal By Tom Cheyney

It is vital that you prepare the laity for the work of church revitalization as well as yourself. Communicate early and often with the church how the revitalization process will take place and how it will be implemented. Prepare yourself spiritually and then prepare your leaders spiritually. Then begin preparing your church spiritually! Seek out God’s guidance and power! Churches who are revitalized first begin with a revitalized laity spiritually.



Making “IT” worth It! Here is a quick lesson for any Church Revitalizer about making it all worth it for you, your church, and your community as you build value. Your Vision Must Be Compelling You cannot build value for church members, prospects, volunteers, lay leadership, or the community without a compelling vision and values for your new church. Become a Significant Leader in Your Community You build value by becoming the leader in your community, the church that everybody wants to attend, work for, grow from, or support. It takes tremendous confidence to stake out the territory and to lead others toward it. Withstand the Loneliness of Leading Lay People You have to withstand the doubts and loneliness of pastoral leadership. At the same time you have to acknowledge to yourself and others that you don’t always know how you will reach your destination. Trust Your Laity First, In Time They Will Trust You For others to follow you through times of uncertainty requires mutual trust and faith. That is what clarity of vision and commitment to values can bring. I once thought that the test of personal leadership was the number of people that follow a leader. But what is more rewarding is to look across a church and see the number of leaders in place, people who share a common aspiration and have the tools and wisdom—the vision and values—to achieve something great. That is any church revitalizer’s greatest legacy, to make “IT” all worth it for everyone. Then you know your vision is on right track.


Health for the Harvest No church can be considered a healthy church unless that church is continuously sending forth reapers to labor in the white harvest of souls in its community. A God anointed evangelist of yesteryear, Dr. Vance Havner, who weighed about 120 pounds, used to say, “I’m the healthiest sick looking person you have ever seen in your life.” His point was that it is not always easy to determine how healthy a person is by outward appearances. That is the reason doctors do multiple tests to determine how sound our health is. The same can be said of a local church. A healthy church is much more than a beautiful edifice sitting on a well-manicured lot. The outward appearance of a church tells us little about its spiritual health. How the church relates to the community and how well it influences the culture of the community will reveal the church’s true health. Does the church really see the multitudes as Jesus saw them? Is the church moved with compassion as Jesus was? (Luke 10: 2) Jesus uses this simple, beautiful but powerful metaphor to define the responsibility of His body, the church, in winning the lost to a saving knowledge of Christ. There must be a time of sowing and reaping. (Matthew 12: 3-9) There is a limited time of harvest. The harvest that is neglected will soon blacken and fall to the ground. The harvest is never safe until it is harvested at the correct time and in the barn. That is true as it relates 70

By Steve Sells to a church and its surrounding community. Thus, we see that church health is not about outward appearances; it is about the harvest and whether or not the church seeks to be the harvester. This is the litmus test that reveals the true state of a church’s health. No church is healthy if it is not seeking to be a harvester of souls. A church should never desire to be healthy just to portray a beautiful or alluring picture of itself to the world, but it should desire to be spiritually healthy to reach the harvest. Church revitalization is all about the Kingdom of God and Kingdom service. It’s all about accomplishing the Great Commission. The unhealthy church never seeks to change the lives of people. We don’t have to look very hard to see the sickness in these churches. At times these ailments threaten the very existence of the church because they are rooted in unconcern for the lost. The reality is that every Christian makes up the body of Christ, the church. If the Christian is spiritually unhealthy then the body will be ill. Moreover, the pastor is often spiritually unhealthy and that always leads to an unhealthy church as well. For the church to be healthy it must have a commitment to the harvest. For the church to be involved in the harvest it must know and understand its community and the culture that is present there. The healthy church and the healthy pastor

will always challenge the members to be involved in reaching the lost. Many church leaders are simply not up to the task of doing what is required to lead in the harvest. As a result, the church is often put on life support and it simply hopes for the best in the future. It is of utmost importance that spiritual leaders lead the church to reach the community about them. In his book Ultimate Harvest: Five F.a.c.t.s. on Fruitfulness and How to Grow the American Church Again, Tobe Momah says, “America is becoming an ever increasing ‘unreached people group,’ because half of the American churches have failed to add new members to their ranks…” He goes on in his book to discuss the need for the church to become fruitful once again. Those of us in revitalization must begin to address the unfruitfulness of the church and its lack of impact on its community and culture. We must begin to address the desperate condition the church is in and the lack of productivity that is seen in the modern local church. It is of utmost importance that we cease being overly concerned with buildings, parking lots and light fixtures. We no longer should worry over the size of class rooms and the ratio of pupils to square footage. These things are simply cosmetic but will not change the direction of a church. As church revitalizers

we must help the church understand that none of these things can change the health of the church because they have little spiritual connotation. We must, as revitalizers, point these hurting churches back to the most important part of church…the harvest! Every Bible scholar knows that a clear picture of the New Testament church is found in the book of Acts, particularly in Acts 2. In verses 42-47 of Acts 2 the pattern is laid out for the church to become concerned Kingdom minded and soul conscious. The text says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” As a church revitalizer I begin with this passage when I am coaching a church and or its pastor. Five character traits are expressed in this passage with a sixth trait as the result. The character traits of a healthy church that are found in this passage are:

• Worship – A picture of Christ-centered, enthusiastic, and exciting worship was prevalent in the first church.

• Prayer – Not as an after-

thought but as the norm for obtaining the power of the Holy Spirit and guidance from God in the early church.

• Ministry – The kind that

sees people where they are no matter the ethnicity, language or nationality and truly cares for them spiritually and physically.

• Fellowship – Totally based

on their love for Christ and one another.

become Kingdom focused. As stated earlier, we must get back to what Jesus said in Matthew 9:38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Then in Luke 10:2, “Therefore said he unto them, the harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” The church revitalizer does a lot of good things, but the best is leading a church to understand, commit to and excel in the harvest for the Kingdoms sake. Jesus said it should be so!

• Discipleship – Learning

from each other and leading each other as they grew in the knowledge of the Lord and His ways. These five traits, when present in the church, will always result in the sixth:

• Evangelism – Seeing the

community and culture as hopeless and without Christ, committing to reaping the harvest for the Kingdom. It seems that the best practice a church revitalizer can engage in is pointing the hurting, broken church back to this Kingdom task. The focus of a plateaued or declining church must change from self to world, from “us” to harvest. We, as revitalizers, must challenge our people to get involved in the harvest and

Steve Sells is the president

and CEO of Operation Transformation church revitalization ministry in Salisbury, North Carolina. Steve has served in ministry for 43 years in North Carolina and Georgia. He has led numerous revitalization conferences and projects. Dr. Sells is the co-author of the book With Greater Power. He seeks to help churches of all sizes experience new health and growth.


Church Music Renewal (again!) Just recently I was talking with someone I consider to be one of the most talented, seasoned, mature, and passionate worship leaders on the planet. But because he was fifty-five-ish, church consultants were encouraging the senior pastor to bring in a younger individual to replace him. Never mind that he led worship from the keyboard in a contemporary service in addition to leading a traditional service with a full choir and orchestra and his team was multi-generational. In fact if there is one thing that stands out in this particular church, it’s the worship music; because the leader is a worshiper of God. But…in the opinion of the leadership…he’s not young enough, not hip enough. About a year ago another church added a contemporary service to their “menu” because “we have to reach the young people.” The band is good. Really good. But after initially filling an auditorium of almost 400, the attendance has dropped to around 120. The band is still…really good. Of course, the traditional service attendees are still paying 88% of the church budget. But, I digress. Church music. (Cue: roll eyes and sigh). While most are waving white flags of surrender in the battle of the worship wars, the disillusionment and disappointment of differing philosophies still divides congregations and generations. In 2004, at the height of the church music schisms, I was 72

asked to help a congregation of 1,100 make the transition from a traditional style of music to a blended style. And in this case we’re talking traditional with a capital “T” as in organ, piano, a choir in robes and everyone singing from the Baptist Hymnal. They had installed two screens, primarily for the sermons and announcements, but when the words to the songs came on the screen, there was pushback. I knew I was going to have to proceed strategically with caution because the pastor’s leadership reputation was at stake. And frankly the unity of the congregation was at stake as well. These realities took precedence over any personal preference or agenda I may have had. This wasn’t about me. It was about Jesus, His Church and His under-shepherd. In fact that’s what it’s always about. As I began to pray, envision, and plan, I recalled something a friend of mine was fond of saying: “There are two ways of doing things…doing it right, or doing it over!” Only, in this case with church music transition and revitalization, you usually don’t get a do-over. So how do we go about “doing it right”?

FIRST STEPS Step One-Ask Questions

We take a cue from Nehemiah who said, “I didn’t tell anyone what God had laid on my heart to do…”. Before we charge ahead with our vision we need to ask

By Tim Kaufman ourselves and close key people (senior pastor, one or two staff or key volunteers) questions like: Why? •Why do we want to make a change in our music style? Where? •Where is the pastor regarding music and worship philosophically? •Where is the staff regarding music and worship philosophically? •Where is the church body regarding music and worship philosophically? What? •If we make a change, then to what style? Blended? Contemporary? If going to two services can we simultaneously revitalize our traditional service? Do we commit to a blended style incorporating a broad mix since the Church is, in truth, blended itself? •If Contemporary then what format? Electric? Acoustic? A mix? •To what end? What is our goal or purpose for making the change(s)? Who? •Do we have the personnel who can play well? •Do we have the personnel who can sing well? •Do we have a tech team that has the skills for lighting, mixing, troubleshooting, repairing, and is committed to excellence in preparation rather than having a Sunday morning hobby? •Do we have spiritually minded, authentic worshipers to lead? And if I am a congregation of 75-90 worshipers, how do we arrive at excellence in our services musically?

When? •When do we hold auditions? •When would we like to launch?

Step Two-Assess

By discovering answers to the above questions I now had a working criteria to make an assessment of purpose, philosophy, format, goal(s), personnel, and timetable. My initial assessment after four weeks on the job helped me understand that the church, while wanting to sing meaningfully as a congregation in corporate worship, was presently entrenched in and committed to a traditional style. It was all they knew. Additionally they had never been discipled in the area of Biblical worship. Elements like corporate recitation of scripture, moments of meditation, and antiphonal praise were quite new to them. Incorporating these new elements they had never before experienced as a group in public worship would be step one in leading them toward meaningful change. Since they were an already established church, I knew we would have to go slowly for the sake of body unity.

Step Three – Establish a New Comfort Zone

Because I was an interim music director I was able to lobby as a “consultant” for gradual but needed changes (this leverage may not have been possible for a full time staff member). About every five weeks the choir would sing a new song that was contemporary but arranged in a more blended style. This created a “tolerance” for new music. Then I would go back to the familiar choir library for some old favorites. That would be followed up with

another newer song, again, letting the choir introduce the piece to the congregation. After a few weeks I would lead the congregation in singing a congregational arrangement of the new songs. This way we were enlarging the repertoire of songs for the worship service while helping newer songs become familiar “friends” before adding more new songs. We rode this wave for about eighteen months. Variety in the service was accomplished weekly by •Occasionally departing from the weekly template or bulletin. •The slow introduction of new music. •Utilizing the public recitation of Scripture, a Responsive Reading, or someone presenting a short drama to help introduce the sermon. In short, we established trust and credibility with the pastor, staff, musicians, tech team and congregation.

NEXT STEPS Enter-Drums!

Utilizing drums as part of the worship service took over two years. Since we were already incorporating new elements we didn’t have to make this an issue early on, but it was a logical next step. It was needed to help mature the church body and in growing the music/worship experience for the worship leaders and participants. We decided to use drums for the Easter service. Then we left them

on the platform, un-played, for several weeks. Over the summer we played them twice a month and by fall we were using them every week.


After successfully incorporating the drums with the organ and piano we also added a guitar, bass, and keyboard for the Christmas program. We now had a full sound that was blended in style with a 35 voice choir and six vocalists on mic.

What Can We Learn?

Transition is optional but revitalization of any style of worship, be it traditional, blended or contemporary, is non-negotiable. We must always be asking the Lord for: •Definition – As we listen for His instructions (“do this…don’t do that”) we become defined. Confidence is renewed. •Direction – As we ask “Where Lord,” He will show us where to go, not just geographically, but philosophically as well. •Vision – As we gain definition and direction, we begin to “see” the big picture of how we can lead people toward meaningful worship revitalization. •Passion – Having a clear vision ignites the fire to launch us enthusiastically toward a desired and worthy goal. •Diligence – rehearsing our definition, experiencing his direction, seeing His big picture will keep the fire burning which in turn causes us to put the shoulder to the sled and do the work of the ministry.



What Does Church Revitalization Mean? Every place I go people ask me for a definition of church revitalization. Church Revitalization is a movement within protestant evangelicalism, which emphasizes the missional work of turning a plateaud or rapidly declining church around and moving it back towards growth. It is lead through a Church Revitalization initiative, which is when a local church begins to work on the renewal of the church with a concerted effort to see the ministry revitalized and the church become healthy. Church Revitalization means that the local church knew how, at one time previously, to renew, revitalize, and re- establish the health and vitality of the ministry. One of the challenges for the laity in the day in which we live is that they have lost the knowledge of church renewal and no longer want to cultivate the skill sets necessary to see their church experience revitalization. Even sadder is when a congregation does not have the corporate memory that there was a day when the local church was reaching people for Christ Jesus and active as evangelistic witnesses into their community.

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ENOVATE R National Church Revitalization Conference

Speakers Include: Tom Cheyney Ron Smith Jason Britt Terry Rials Jim Grant Paul Smith Jennifer Bennett Chuck Lawless Walter Jackson Jason Britt Bill Hegedus Drew Cheyney Chris Irving Steve Smith Jason Cooper Rob Myers David Lema

November 6-8, 2018 Orlando, FL (FBC Winter Park)

17 60

National Church Revitalization Speakers

Church Revitalization Workshops


Main Sessions By Revitalization Practitioners



Intensive Subjects


Breakout Session Opportunities

Special Group Rates Available


Church Revitalizer Magazine February/March Issue 2018  

The Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal

Church Revitalizer Magazine February/March Issue 2018  

The Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal