Three practical ways to connect with the unfolding story of what Christ is doing in the local church
The pastor stands to enter the pulpit, looks up and realizes that hardly anyone is in the congregation. The once-active church is in a state of decline.
The pastor has done his best to lead the church into renewal but feels like giving up. And he is not alone. Many pastors today are hurting, discouraged and ready to throw in the towel. The average size of a church in North America is fewer than 200 people with the majority having less than 100 people. Pastors get caught looking over the fence at the large church down the road that is growing and wonder, Did God forget me? Did God forget my church?
I have felt this pain myself. During a time of spiritual searching, God gave me three practical ways of reconnecting to the Christ-story happening inside the church.
TELL THE STORY
The story that is taking shape within the four walls of the church is a God story. A declining church is not alone. Nina Gunter, a minister and former general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene, once said, “The church is not in crisis, but Christ.” That one sentence changed my ministry and outlook on the local church.
Everything done in the local church should be done to the glory of God. Tell the story weekly of how someone the church has prayed for had an answer to prayer. Tell the story of how a member blessed the community through a simple act of kindness. Tell the story of how God is leading his people to pray, seek and help turn things around.
Telling the story should be done weekly in small groups and incorporated into worship services. Celebrate weekly instead of procrastinating or overthinking about doing something as you help move the church forward in God’s power.
SHARE THE STORY
The story of revitalization is a story of redeeming what others have written off. Share with the church and with others in the community how God is impacting lives. Celebrate the renewal story in conversations, through social media and in the pulpit. Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on the positives of what God is doing.
I know it is easy to get caught in the negative cycle of not having enough money and not having enough people, but get caught up in the fact that God has called you and each person who attends church to pray for God’s direction, prepare for God’s move and partake in God’s plan.
LIVE THE STORY
Revitalization is about failing forward and not falling backward. In a revitalization work, try something until it works. Live out the calling that God has on your life and that for the life of the church. Your calling to the church to serve as the pastor is not by accident but by a divine appointment to be an influencer in the local neighborhood.
Live the story in the community through the calling that God has for the local church. Find organizations that need help, come alongside them and volunteer time. Find a school in the area that needs volunteers and support that school in their need. Find neighbors who need help. Christ has called the church to go, not to stay in one place. Living the story is becoming the hands and feet of Christ in the neighborhood.
Tell, share and live the story weekly and watch how God encourages your spirit and that of the local church.