It seems like our church has been in a slump recently… like we’re going through the motions and are seeing some decline. What have other pastors done when they felt it was necessary to revitalize their congregation.
As pastors, we have all experienced times when it seems that the congregation is not moving forward with God and the people seem to just go through the “motions of church.” In such times, I have always felt it necessary to encourage and admonish the church to spend time in prayer collectively. There is something special that happens when we join together for corporate prayer.
Recently, I felt moved by the Lord during our Tuesday night prayer time, to challenge the church with the same challenge that Jesus gave His disciples on the Mount of Olives.
And he came unto the disciples, and found them asleep, and said unto Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour”?
It was the thought, “could you not give me one hour?” that seemed to burn in my heart and I began to emphasize this truth in every service. God has given us 168 hours every week of our lives and the question to us all is simply, can we not give God one hour from the 168 hours we each have every week?
I found that when we join together for a time of corporate prayer, praying for the nation, the church, and the unreached, everyone’s proprieties change. Something begins to happen with our expectation of what God is doing in our personal lives as well as in our church.
In a modern German translation of 1 Timothy 2:1, it reads: “Be sure to stir the church up to first pray and never give up praying.”
I’m convinced that if we as leaders can keep pointing the people towards God’s priorities, God Himself will quicken each and every heart and we will experience the very thing we desire; “times of refreshing that come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
A great resource for this is the Unstuck Group. Their podcast, Unstuck Church, is excellent in helping churches recognize typical sticking points that affect growth, as well as offering solutions for onsite church evaluation consulting and online training resources.
To tell you the truth, what I see most pastors doing is changing the décor in their sanctuary (a makeover), changing their music style, adjusting their appearance (dress, etc.) to be more appealing, shortening their preaching time, using more modern communication techniques (social media, etc.)—doing all kinds of external things as opposed to what they ought to do, which is call the whole church to fast and pray and call out to God.
I plan my sermons in such a way to always challenge my congregation to stay on the cutting edge. I never felt it necessary to revitalize my church. If things seem to become redundant, God always comes through with a move of the Spirit.
The new church building has made a very powerful impact on the congregation. “Look what the Lord has done.” At the weekly staff meetings, we talk candidly about what is going on in the church; good and bad and how to fix the bad and enhance the good.
Over the years, faithful members who are serious about Jesus, pray. We have a weekly prayer meeting and pre-service prayer for every service. Faith declarations concerning the moving of the Holy Spirit, freedom in the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders are made with unity and power.
Stronger members are encouraged to fellowship with and help newer Christians.
The praise and worship team have been together for a long time and are upbeat and anointed. Their joy and spiritual attitude rubs off on the congregation.
We have events like Super Bowl Sunday (passing a football for accuracy and kicking field goals) and the World Series Challenge (throwing a baseball at a target). There are plenty of snacks and good-time laughter. Church picnics, Christmas Team Ministry Dinner, Prayer for the Animals, etc., are all good clean fun and helps the church stay spiritually alive.
The new church has a coffee café, so before and after the services, we fellowship for a few minutes with the congregation, encouraging and kidding with them.
We endeavor to share with the congregation how blessed we are as Christians, when we look at the chaos in the world, we should rejoice and be eternally grateful for what Jesus has done for us. We encourage people to share testimonies of how the Lord has blessed them specifically. This always ministers to people experiencing similar things.
We encourage everyone to bring someone to church and thank the congregation by faith for doing so. We try to keep a pulse on the congregation and follow up on those who we know are facing challenges. We congratulate those who are doing well personally. We try to remember those who have important circumstances going on and pray for them by phone or in person.
We remind the congregation that serving Jesus is the greatest privilege. There will be difficult times, but there are difficult times in the world too and the world faces circumstances alone. We always let them know that we are Jesus Christ on this earth and nothing is better than the honor of representing Him.