Revitalizing a church is all about pursuing non-Christians with a new energy, not relocating Christians from one church to another. However, to re-charge evangelism in an older church, there needs to be some new leadership that blends with the current leadership. New leadership likely means recruiting some Christians from outside of your church.
As I stated in a previous post, one of the phases of revitalizing a church is asking Christians from other churches to join your church to help you revitalize. There are several ways to do this. One idea is to call other pastors and discuss the possibility of them sending out families who would benefit from leading in a revitalizing church for a set period of time, such as a year. At Griggs, we asked for help a little more informally. I simply called up all of my friends, told them my ideas and goals for the church and then asked them to consider giving me a hand. A little over a dozen did!
How you find help isn’t as much of an issue as who you find to help. I mean, being a part of a revitalizing church is a unique calling.
It's similar to being part of a church plant, but it’s not a church plant. You’re not creating something, you’re re-creating something. The healthy pieces of the church’s culture are supposed to be developed into something fresh, not thrown away. Who is a good fit to come to, help with, and potentially lead in a revitalizing church? Who do you ask for help?
People Who Want to Be Better Neighbors
For one reason or another, many believers drive miles away from their home and join bodies on the other side of town. That’s not a bad thing in any way.
However, many of us, could potentially be missing out on a chance for even greater impact. We could be missing out on a chance to love our actual neighbors by joining a church right around the corner.
In our area, door-to-door visitation works pretty well. People will come out onto the porch and have a conversation with you. (I realize this is likely a southern thing.) I’ve been in many conversations with folks in our area who say something along the lines of “I’m a believer and, actually, I’ve been looking for a church.”
My gut reaction is then to talk about why they should visit our church because of what we can do for them. After some thought, however, I realized that people who already have some sort of church background are more compelled by an invitation to come to our church because of what they may be able to do for us.
When it comes to those who are already going to a church outside the neighborhood, you may be tempted to just leave the conversation alone. And, to be sure, you don’t want to put pressure on people to leave the church God has them in. However, I think it's appropriate to ask the question, “Have you ever thought about getting connected to a church right here where you live? I wonder what ministry doors would open up for you and your family.” And see if that ignites in them some Spirit-driven interest in helping your church.
People Who Want to Get off of the Bench
These folks are sitting in the back of a large church somewhere every other week. They're walking right in, walking right out, not getting involved or serving the body.
There could be a handful of reasons they’re in this scenario but let's skip to this possibility: since there are already people serving in every position they feel unworthy of or unsure of putting on a jersey and getting out there.
Some personality types want to get involved but aren’t sure where to start in a big church. Big churches don’t appear to have something revitalizing churches obviously have - need.
In a revitalizing church, there is always a clear need. There is always an invitation to fill the need. The obviousness of the needs helps some people get in the game, right where they want to be.
Remember the dozen or so people I was talking about? The ones who joined Griggs early on for the purpose of helping us out (many of whom are still with us)? Almost all of them were walking with Jesus but wishing for a chance to use their gifts to fulfill a genuine need for others.
If you know of some brothers and sisters who are sitting on the bench, invite them to start on your team.
College Students Who've Had Enough Cake
College students have been a tremendous help to us from the beginning. All you need is one or two to start off with and they'll somehow bring the rest. We started with one college student who after only a few weeks of coming to our church brought about ten or so. That number as grown into twenty to thirty just two years later.
College Students have a lot of energy and they’re entering into a new stage in their Christian life. They're at an age where they can see the problems of the church and have an intense desire to fix all of them and change the world.
Now, some of that needs to be guided, channeled and even corrected. None of us are called to be the messiah nor should we arrogantly assume we could do such a superior job compared to the generation that went before us. However, with some discipleship, that young energy can be powerful.
Don’t underestimate the willingness and help of young saints. I once had a conversation with a Christian college student who was pursuing a rather rough ministry overseas. When I asked him why he had chosen that path he replied, “I just feel l like I’m a fat kid eating cake.”
I knew exactly what he meant. He felt overloaded with head knowledge and underwhelmed with chances to serve with his hands in a meaningful way. There are a lot of college kids in the same boat. Be the one that takes away their cake and gives them a chance to lead.