Each year I go to my doctor for an annual checkup. The nurse determines my height, weight, eyesight, and blood pressure. The laboratory checks the sugar level in my blood and cholesterol. Based on these quantitative statistics, the doctor makes a qualitative judgement as to how healthy I am.
In the same manner as leaders in our churches we need to analyze the statistics of our churches to determine our church's health. You need to know how long your church has been on its present decline or plateau. It is helpful to discover the causes and traumas behind the church's plunge into decline. As you look at the statistics, ask why ups and downs occurred. Seek to discover why the church got where it is today.
Whether or not we want to admit it, our churches are not as healthy as we think they are. Church leaders more now than ever need to be evaluating the ministries and where they need to refocus. This is a wonderful time to pull in some key leaders and list all the of the church's ministries and ask, "If we were starting from scratch today what would we do? What would we not do?" As people glance over the list , circle the ministries they feel they would keep and cross out the ones they wouldn't do. Based on what you discover, you will get a real sense of what is worth keeping or adapting or replacing.
Like in my opening illustration with my doctor, he gave me a list of things I needed to focus on in order to maintain my healthy. I suggest using a similar diagnostic tool to bring back focus to your church's ministries to see a healthier church. A friend of mine once wrote, "A person with focus in the person with the authority. When a person has focus, it provides leverage to influence others." This is true when attempting to revitalize a church. In some ways, just focusing on something, anything is the beginning of turning around a declining situation. Yet, it is best to focus on something that provides real direction rather than just expending energy just for the sake of doing something . Consider these three areas of focus.
1. Refocus on your Core Ministry: After studying your church and community, ask your leaders "what sets us apart from other churches? What can our church offer to the community that is uniquely us?"
2. Refocus on Outreach and Evangelism: Contrary to popular thought, there is a difference between outreach and evangelism. Outreach is any activity that serves to build a relationship with people in a church's community. (This can be accomplished without actually talking about Christ or the gospel) Service projects, , such as painting a widows house, or cleaning up a neighborhood park, or handing out water on a hot day are all outreach.
Evangelism on the other hand, is any activity that serves to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to persuade people to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. Both are needed to help bring about revitalization for your church.
3. Refocusing the Church: Revitalization leaders typically do one or more of the following in the process of refocusing their church.
Communicate a strategy to engage newcomers
Designate funds and time for outreach.
Provide evangelism training for church attendees
Redirect ministries for outreach
Offer quarterly outreach events.
Maybe as you were reading, new ideas came to your mind. Ideas without execution amount to ...Well, diddly squat. What makes an idea successful is not the idea. Ideas are worth a dime a dozen. What makes the difference is follow-through. Once an idea hits your thinking you have about 90 seconds to act on it before your brain starts shouting excuses at you. Make a commitment right now to act on your next idea within 90 seconds. Put your idea in motion and move your church toward health.