Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 53
The Lord never wastes time. He may take up time, more than we would wish for, but He is always moving forward with His vision for His people and His Church. The last 40 years of Moses’ life were spent living out God’s vision for Israel. I’ve always taken issue with the idea that Israel was “wandering” in the desert for 40 years. God directed Israel every step of the way. He never forsook them, and He always had a plan. Why, then, do so many churches right now seem to feel paralyzed, instead of pressing on towards the Promised Land?
Mourning our pre-COVID time for months is not healthy. Even when Moses died, Israel mourned 30 days, and then took the land God promised to them. Has your church been in a holding pattern for the last five months? If so, that’s too long. God’s vision for your church has not changed. If you have not finished mourning and made plans to take the land, you probably weren’t pursuing a great vision before COVID.
God has a vision for your church, and it’s up to you as a church leader to perceive that vision, communicate it well, and lead towards its fulfillment. Let’s look at three truths you should hold on to always.
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Egypt looks good in the rearview mirror, but the reality is death.
Churches that were truly doing well at making and maturing disciples of Jesus pre-covid are continuing to make progress today. Why? Because they had their eye on the prize, and nothing can derail a church built around outcomes of strategy.
For too many churches right now, they’re looking back at 2019 or even February 2020, and just desire to go back to what seemed good. In reality, far too many churches were not thriving back then. It just seemed better from this side of the pandemic. Statistically, most churches were on the slow path to death before COVID, and now they’re looking back at Egypt and thinking it was great.
A lack of action is not an option.
The world is not waiting for your church to get itself back together. It’s marching on as it always has. Before we even knew what a “COVID” was, most churches stopped moving forward years or decades ago. You cannot expect a lack of forward momentum to go on for months, and then snap back into shape and all of a sudden be moving again. The physical laws of motion are in play, and inertia will carry your city by you in a flash if you hit the brakes hard. The desert is not the end goal, the promised land is, but God will certainly let you go a generation if that’s what it takes to get the leadership necessary to cross the river.
What lies ahead is better than what is behind.
The changes that vision-centered churches will make are:
- Do a better job of “by-name” discipleship where everyone is known and cared about, and there are levels of leadership that are monitoring their personal journey. If you’re focused on producing content more than discipleship, you’re wasting time.
- Re-inventing how the facilities are used and developed. An auditorium and classrooms are out, and “third space” environments and gathering places are in. We don’t mean raze your building and rebuild. We mean re-envision your spaces and break out of decades past.
- Become an unmistakable blessing to your neighborhood and city. Build your reputation in the community, and you’ll build trust and a platform for your message – the Good News of Christ!
If you’re like many church leaders, you do not feel visionary. In my experience, there is always more vision in a pastor than he gives himself credit for. We’d love to help you develop it. We have options with more hands-on help from one of our Guides, or a more self-led option through our Church Revitalization University.
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.