Why a breakout will require a break down of church leaders.
How can pastors and leaders guide their churches to experience a breakout? Breakout can be defined as a sudden move to the next level. Therefore, with many of our churches in states of plateau or decline (at least 60% according to Rick Richardson in his book, You Found Me), the question is not do we need a breakout, but rather what will it take to lead our churches to breakout?
I would propose that the first step to breakout is to have leaders who break down.
In March of 2013, my wife and I bought a used minivan. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of minivans, nor am I a fan of buying a much older model car (I didn’t learn car repair in seminary). However, I am a big fan of making my wife happy. Not too long after purchasing the van, I’m driving back from the store (alone) with my three small children when suddenly, after a few mildly intense sputtering episodes, the car died.
There I was, with a broken down car, stranded in the middle of the road, with no shoulder to move the vehicle to safety.
While I am trying to think about what to do with the broken down car and move us to safety, my 4-year-old daughter has her own breakdown. She begins letting out these belching screams yelling “Daddy, Daddy,” piercing cries accompanied with huge crocodile tears, along with heavy sobbing and breathing. The car was not the only thing that broke down that day; my daughter Ellie had one as well.
Did you notice what triggered her breakdown? Ellie’s breakdown stemmed from the breakdown of the car.
For many of us, our churches are like my minivan. They were running fine, but something happened along way, and now the church is not functioning and operating the way Jesus intended—as a God-glorifying, gospel-centered, mission-oriented, disciple-making, and church planting vehicle. Sure, the flashers, radio, horn and air still work (i,e., corporate worship, committees and programs still work), but the breakdown is in the primary reason of its existence—it’s literally not moving, not going anywhere. What is needed within the church today are people like my little girl who will have a breakdown over the brokenness of the church.
When it comes to leaders in Scripture that had a breakdown over the broken condition of God’s people, Nehemiah comes to mind. Although Nehemiah had never been to Jerusalem, he had great affection and concern for his homeland, therefore, when his brothers came to visit, he asked how his countrymen were faring. The news he received was bad; the people and the city were broken. The Bible says that upon hearing this, Nehemiah “wept and mourned” for days. In addition, the Bible states that he “continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” The city’s broken condition led to his breakdown.
Nehemiah teaches us a foundational principle of leadership when it comes to leading a breakout. Leadership begins in the heart; it begins with a breakdown.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS OF BREAKDOWN
There are two contributing factors that led to Nehemiah’s breakdown.
First, his reality was based on what he knew about God and what God had called His people to be and do (Gen. 12:3; Ex. 19:4–6). When Nehemiah learned that the wall was in ruin and the people lived in great trouble and shame, he recognized that they were not where they were supposed to be.
Do we know with certainty the honest, transparent conditions of our church in relation to God’s intended reality, a reality void of any false reality such as our presuppositions, preferences, or traditions?
Second, the reality affected him because not only did he know about God’s intended reality for his people, but he was in relationship with God. Thus, when Nehemiah heard about the condition of the city as well as the people, he went immediately to the Father weeping, morning, fasting, and praying.
He was broken over their condition because he knew God was broken over their condition. And Nehemiah’s going to the Father was not a one-time ordeal; the Bible states that he “continued” doing this.
How closely are you connected to the heart of the Father?
As leaders, both pastoral and lay, we must understand that the breakout of our churches begins with our breakdown in light of their broken condition.
In summary, breakdown occurs when the source of our reality stems from God’s intended purpose for us in the world. But understanding God’s intended reality is not enough, we must also be connected with him in a vibrant, intimate and personal relationship, which then begins to move our heart the way his heart is moved. In doing so, when God’s heart breaks over the condition of his people and their ineffectiveness of living out his mission, then our heart breaks as well.
In short, to break out we must first have a breakdown.
This article originally appeared on NewChurches.com and is reposted here by permission.