Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 97
Here in the United States we just celebrated our independence on the 4th of July. It’s a time for celebration and remembrance of our freedom. Regardless of whether you’re an American or not (we have a large audience all over the world), there are some freedoms that you may need to be reminded of. Oftentimes, pastors get caught in cycles in which they feel oppressed by their circumstances. Sometimes, those circumstances are self-imposed. Hopefully one or more of the freedoms listed below will allow you to assert your independence and break free of the clutches that bind.
You have the freedom to …
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Express the Great Commission in a way that is meaningful to your people
Christ gave His church a mandate in Matthew 28:19-20 and other Great Commission passages, but He also allows us the freedom to express that mission in ways that are meaningful to our context. Be creative and bold, but most of all, be clear. Help your church understand the call to action they should be pursuing.
Say “no” to things that would pull your attention away from making and maturing disciples of Jesus
Jim Collins said it well, “Good is the enemy of great.” There are lots of good things you can spend time on, but the best things to spend time on are those that keep you on mission, and making progress towards your church’s vision. Anything else is a waste of valuable resources.
Discern God’s vision for your church and rally people towards living it out
Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You are the chief vision-caster for your church. Work with your leadership team to discern God’s vision, and strategize on how to express that vision to your people. An exciting picture of the future is the greatest driver of excitement and unity.
Build up leaders to share in your work
Who told you that you had to do all this alone? Stop it! Spending time developing leaders is time well spent. Help people understand how they’ve been gifted by the Holy Spirit and where they can play a role in the body. Serving is an important aspect of our sanctification, so must be taken seriously by disciple-makers.
Dismiss people from the ministry who are divisive
Scripture provides what we need to deal with broken relationships and sin, but there also comes a point in which the fellowship must be broken in order to preserve the health of the ministry. Divisive people are a cancer that must be dealt with. It only gets worse the longer it’s allowed to fester.
Stop ministry programs that are not productive in mission and vision
Much like how you need to spend your personal time on the best mission/vision drivers, so also the church must be organized to allow the greatest discipleship outcomes. We call that the Discipleship Pathway. You have finite resources in people, time, money, and facilities, so everything must be maximized. Just because you’ve always done it that way, doesn’t mean it the right way.
Express worship to God in ways not “traditional” to your church
I didn’t say throw out the hymnbook. I said you can break out of whatever has become traditional to your church. Songs can change, orders of worship can change, participants in the service can change, etc. Take a fresh look at what you do. Have you felt like worship is growing stale? Is there little discernible response from your congregation? Then it’s time for a change.
Speak about financial stewardship in the church
Jesus spoke about money many times. It’s necessary and healthy to do the same, especially in today’s culture. It’s a culture that needs to be developed inside the church to combat the culture outside the church.
Expect a liveable wage from the church
This is a challenging one for many of our readers due to cultural differences and expectations, but it is reasonable for your church to support you with a livable wage. There are churches with very wrong perspectives on this on both ends of the spectrum. Some provide great abundance and some withhold unduly. “The plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.” 1 Corinthians 9:10
Outsource work you’re not an expert in
You do not have to be an expert in everything. Let’s face it, you’re not. Nobody is. Why then toil in things that will not bear the fruit you desire? See #2 above. Lean on your staff team if you’re blessed to have them. Lean on your volunteers if you’re blessed to have them. Lean on outside organizations like The Malphurs Group. We’d be blessed to have you.
My prayer for you this week, regardless of where in the world this finds you, is that you’ll breathe in the freedom of Christ, and exhale refreshment in His hope. Keep up the good work, pastor.
BONUS: Get a free Team Discussion Guide in the video description on YouTube.
A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.