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 Best Practices for Church Revitalization and Renewal