Undermining Revitalization–Part 3

I’m continuing my series of undermining revitalization. The following are the last two ways leaders undermine churches turning around.

Third, these leaders believe the cost is too great for them.

When the majority of the spies looked at the Promised Land, they saw too great a cost. Their standard of forward movement became the peopleof the land instead of the promise of the land. In other words, the fear of losing their lives trumped the faith of living out God’s promise. 

Many church leaders within churches in need of revitalization allow the fear of “what if” to prevent the faith of “what could be.”

Another way to put it—They kill ‘wow’ with ‘how.’There are a least three areas where the fear or the cost of the former overcomes the faith of the latter.

First, the cost of giving up methodological preferences proves to be too costly for leaders who undermine revitalization.Preferential methods such as style of preaching or music, structure of small groups, philosophy of children’s ministry, or a strategy for engaging the community prove to have more of a primary rather than tertiary root to the heart. 

As a result, when a decision is brought to the table to change structure and strategy in order to be more efficient and effective at reaching people far from Jesus and discipling them into His image, that decision is met with opposition from leaders who are attempting to ultimately preserve their religious way of life and worship rather than doing whatever it may take to advance the good news of Jesus. 

Second, the cost of giving up friends one has worshiped with for years proves to be too costly for leaders who undermine revitalization.When it comes to revitalization, not everyone will make the journey. 

The changes may prove to be too much for some for whatever reason. In many revitalization cases I’ve seen people leave to seek church membership elsewhere. And in some of those cases (while they don’t publicly complain or voice their opinion for the sake of peace in the church), they confide in church leaders that they are leaving to seek church membership elsewhere because there is something about the new direction they don’t like. 

Such an exodus of people (especially those who the leaders have known for years) sets off a panic alarm, causing the leaders to retreat from moving forward—thus relapsing to the past. In the end, no one wins since those who leave tend to stay gone and the church is paralyzed from moving forward into the new direction the Spirit is prompting. 

Third, the cost of giving up the safety and security of the feel of the church proves to be too costly for leaders who undermine revitalization.

When a church becomes a vehicle for mission—reaching people far from Jesus—it will be a church that receives, not repels, new people. 

New people joining the church changes the dynamic of the church. Such changes make people uncomfortable. Some members may even negatively voice that the church is not what it once was. Some may voice that they feel like they no longer have a voice. Some may voice they feel like their church has been stolen from them. 

In any case, leaders who undermine revitalization begin fighting for the “comfort” of the long-standing members. As a result, they suck the life out of the vision.  

Fourth, they fail to trust the process.

Revitalization, as stated earlier, is basically a corporate form of sanctification. Thus, it is a process of being corporately formed and molded in the body of Christ. Such a process will include highs and lows, celebrations and confrontations, and opportunities and obstacles. Those churches that successfully experience revitalization (and thus revival) are the ones that have leaders who trusted the process. 

The key to trusting the process is knowing God’s promise (promised vision) for who He wants you to be and what He has called you to do. In other words, it’s imperative to anchor the process of revitalization to the glory and command of Christ rather than the experience and demands of the people. 

It’s imperative to anchor the process of revitalization to the glory and command of Christ rather than the experience and demands of the people. 

When leaders don’t know God’s promised vision or His preferred future for the church, then they are driven by experiences and feelings. As a result, leaders jump ship rather than stabilizing the ship through the storm.

In the process of revitalization, it’s not that people’s voice doesn’t matter, it’s just that Christ’s vision for His church matters more.