I strive to lead with a biblical approach and attitude as team leader of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Church Consulting & Revitalization Team.
Luke shares the basic strategy that the Apostle Paul employed as he served the early churches along with his overarching goals. We have adopted his strategy and goals on our CCR Team.
"For as they traveled through the towns … the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in number daily." —Acts 16:4-5 (HCSB)
The Apostle Paul's team traveled and visited the churches in person with the hope of helping them "grow stronger in the faith" (discipleship) and "increase in number daily" (evangelism). With this approach, our team drives 300,000-plus miles each year and makes over 20,000 personal contacts.
After we had done this multiple years, we noticed that pastors who had successfully led their churches to experience revitalization possessed consistent characteristics. We identified the top 10 as follows:
10 CHARACTERISTICS OF A REVITALIZATION PASTOR
1. Revitalization pastors lean into conflict.
Some pastors avoid conflict at all costs. They may develop a brilliant, God-given vision for the future of the church, but they scrap it just as soon as one or two people are critical. Revitalization pastors do not necessarily like conflict, but they are willing to face it in order to fulfill the God-given vision.
2. Revitalization pastors are willing to take risks.
It's risky to help a church understand that it is being ineffective. It's rarely pleasant to confront difficult people or to seek restoration of a broken relationship, but revitalization pastors do what's right instead of merely doing what's easy and convenient.
3. Revitalization pastors work hard on church relationships.
As a child, most of us learned the little hand visual that accompanied the saying "here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and here are the people." As adults, we know that the symbolism is lacking because the church is not a building; the church IS the people. Revitalization pastors understand that building a church means building people.
4. Revitalization pastors take the lead in evangelism.
A church cannot be revitalized without reaching new people with the gospel. A revitalization pastor places emphasis on evangelism and leads by example in this area. Methods of evangelism vary from church to church and community to community, but churches experiencing revitalization are making new converts for Christ.
5. Revitalization pastors lead with a vision.
Visions are sometimes written, sometimes spoken, and sometimes written and spoken! Revitalization pastors have a God-given vision for the church's future, and they share it repeatedly with the church.
6. Revitalization pastors demonstrate dependence on God.
This should not surprise anyone! The scriptures clearly teach our need for the Holy Spirit's power in our lives. Revitalization pastors seem to understand this fully because they consistently spend time with God in Bible reading and prayer, they often cry out to God for His blessing on the ministries of the church, and they lead the church to give God the glory when they experience a spiritual "win" as a congregation.
7. Revitalization pastors are lifelong learners.
You've heard the saying "leaders are learners." We would add the saying "leaders are readers." Even those who are not avid readers find other ways to learn. They often listen to other pastors' sermons, attend conferences, participate in state convention growth opportunities, and meet with other pastors to learn best practices.
8. Revitalization pastors develop leaders and laborers in the church.
Revitalization pastors agree with the Apostle Paul that one of the main roles of a pastor is "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:12, ESV). As a result, they develop a leadership development strategy for the church, regularly delegate ministry responsibilities to trusted people and personally mentor a group of men in the congregation.
9. Revitalization pastors lead the church to celebrate wins.
They celebrate wins by showing appreciation to church volunteers who serve faithfully. They sometimes ask for testimonies of where people recently saw God at work. They regularly focus on positive things that happen in the life of the church.
10. Revitalization pastors lead the church to implement change.
Revitalization pastors spend time thoroughly explaining the reason behind a needed change and invest extra time with people who are slow to accept a needed change. They bathe proposed changes in significant prayer and resist moving too quickly when making a major change.
Revitalization pastors come in all shapes and sizes, but they share these characteristics. There is a desperate need for godly leadership in the local church. It is not enough for a pastor to develop a vision for revitalization, but he must LEAD the people to fulfill that vision. It often takes years to see a stagnant church become vibrant and healthy, so revitalization pastors tend to have longer tenures. Many studies show a clear relationship between pastoral tenure and church health.
Following the Apostle Paul's example, join us as we work towards, and pray for, a mighty church revitalization movement in our beloved Kentucky Baptist Convention churches. Focus on evangelism and discipleship. Continue to serve and give as we partner together in the gospel through the Cooperative Program.
Steve Rice is team leader of Church Consulting and Revitalization of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.