The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 113
Once upon a time, there was a guy that felt God calling him into service. He was already serving in various capacities at church, so this call was different. The church he attended valued leadership development, so he participated in those ministries going deep in theological knowledge and then exploring his gifting and divine design. He was given opportunities to explore ministries both inside and outside the church and then landed on one that he knew God had been preparing him for. That guy is me, A.J. Mathieu, and that ministry I discovered outside my church was The Malphurs Group. The four-sentence story I just told began 11 years ago.
We as church leaders spend a lot of time and energy getting people to engage in the work of our churches, and rightly so. That’s where real life transformation begins to happen. God has gifted all His children in ways to build up the Body of Christ and to do the work of the ministry. It’s a constant struggle to fill volunteer positions, write another sermon, lead the staff, meet with people, counsel, and put out fires. Even larger churches with more staff get locked into the Sunday-to-Sunday must-haves and never see the world outside the church.
It’s easy to retreat into a myopic view of our local church. We sometimes forget that there’s a whole global Church (and a lost world) out there needing the human resources that we’ve been gifted with. Out there, beyond the trees, is a beautiful forest.
It’s important for church leaders to not only build people up for the work of the internal ministries of the church but also the external ministries of the Church. Those may be things your local church doesn’t even participate in, but your people can and should. Who may be the next great evangelist, missionary, or pastor among you? Which of your church members may create a homeless shelter or food bank? Who may build up students, women, men, or prisoners? Who may plant churches or revitalize dying ones?
Too often, what we see are weekly messages with an application for family, marriage, relationships, work, or church, but not looking into the big world outside for which God has created us to change.
How can we move people from the church to the Kingdom?
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Talk About a Broader Perspective
It’s easy for people to think that family, work, and church are the entirety of our lives. Those are the three major buckets that Christians carry their time resources in. We spend a third of our lives asleep (if we’re lucky) and at least another third at work. So it’s no surprise that everyone feels pretty short on time for much else already. Those precious few hours in which they may have some amount of discretion are key. If the question was not “how can you spend more time at church?” but instead, “How can you spend more time on Kingdom things?” what changes might we see in the attitudes of people?
Encourage Visionary Thinking
This is different than the point above. Opening up your eyes to the world around you is one thing, but dreaming of how you can change it is another. Before finding out about church revitalization, I didn’t know it existed or that there was even a need for it. Once I knew, I could see the difference I could make not only in the churches I would work with but in what they would do when they returned to health and a great Kingdom perspective. It became my motivation. Point one is introduction, and point two is inspiration.
Foster Relationships for Confirmation
A church with a Kingdom culture will help people take that first step out of the fold and into the green pasture of the world that God created them for. From pastors to internal ministry team leaders to small group leaders, the culture of the church should be watching for people’s natural talents, spiritual gifts, and passions to help move them into great Kingdom works. Having a person you respect confirm a call on your life and encourage you can be the difference between getting started or not.
One-on-one is good but time-consuming, so introduce people to your congregation and cast a wide net. People don’t know what they don’t know. That was my case when it came to church revitalization. Had I not crossed paths with our CEO, Ron Donnini, I may still be unaware. Have people come speak to your church about the ministry impact they are making. Have them share how they got involved in it, how it’s changed their lives, and who else might be a good fit. Could you carve 10 minutes out on a Sunday morning once a month to fit it in? Yes. If you come to find that “Kingdom Sunday” each month is your best attended, you’ll know you’re on to something.
Churches and church leaders who fail to see the big picture of the global Church of Jesus Christ are cutting themselves and others off from many blessings. The competitive nature of at least the American Church is restricting Kingdom expansion. Can the hand reach as far without the arm? Does the foot run as fast without the leg? Build your people up and hold on to them loosely and watch God do amazing things with them.
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.