Last week I wrote about building a unified leadership team as an important step in seeing a heaven-sent revitalization of your church.
If you are the pastor (or lead pastor) in a congregation which is on the downside of the church lifecycle, you’re going to need a cooperative – if not an enthusiastic – board/council/consistory/session, to stand with you and help you with your enormous and incredibly important leadership challenge.
If you are one of those board members, I hope and pray that you will work with your pastor, doing everything in your power to help lead your congregation back to vibrant, great-commission, disciple-making health. Thank you for serving in this key role!
This follows the reliable leadership formula involving concentric circles: If the leader will (1) convince a core group of leaders of a needed change and then (2) bring the proposal to a larger group of leaders, followed by (3) bringing the proposal to the entire congregation, the initiative will almost always be accepted.
If your church already has an official group of people – or an almost official group of people, such as a staff (which has its own regular meetings) or a long-running Sunday School class – your next concentric circle of influencers might be built in and readily apparent.
Many churches, for instance, have a monthly pattern of a one or two-hour elder’s meeting, followed by another hour or two with a larger group of leaders known as a council, a consistory, the deacons, or some other name. In this case, your second concentric circle of leaders is evident.
Other congregations have monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly meetings of a broad group of officers and ministry leaders who gather together to learn, strategize, schedule and communicate plans with one another.
If it doesn’t have such a group, or some other easily identifiable cadre of committed people, you may have to start something new: call it a dream team, a learning community, or a transition team, or whatever name works best in your context.
Rather than expecting these dear people – who may well be overcommitted already – to attend one more group, see if you can step into an existing format such as a Sunday School class, a staff or council meeting, or a small group that meets in a home. Get these wonderful people praying, reading, talking, dreaming and even visiting other churches which are a step or two ahead of you in the revitalization journey. You may well have an unforgettably great time leading this group!
We’re going to pretend for a moment that you are the pastor (or lead pastor) who is relatively new to your congregation and does not yet have a ready-made, second-circle group of leaders to step into. You’ve figured out a time and place to meet but you have yet to identify the folks you should be inviting.
My suggestion is to look for your:
- Prayer people – Prayer people (persons with a passion for prayer) are usually zealous for God Himself and for the gospel. Prayer people pray for all the right reasons and put the rest of us to shame. Ask them to join your team. Better yet, ask them to pray about joining your team! If they can’t attend, ask them to pray for it. They will.
- Passionate people – Do you notice the worshippers on Sunday morning? It’s very possible that some of your passionate worshippers would be wonderful candidates for your supportive coalition, for they probably would love to see many more people around them joining them in worship.
- Plan people – You don’t want too many plan-makers on your dream team, but you will be blessed to have at least one or two of them. Planners turn other people’s dreams into something tangible and every church needs that.
- Evangelism people – Evangelism people are not often good at sitting still for long, but if you can have short, action-packed, future-focused meetings, you just might be able to keep one or two of those wonderful brothers and sisters who are profoundly gifted at sharing the gospel. You need – we all need – their passion!
- Wise people – Some people are just extra-specially wise, aren’t they? They don’t necessarily have a lot of new ideas and they might even come off as “wet blankets,” or “the glass is half empty” types, but we need these folks nonetheless. They will protect you from making costly mistakes.
- Giving people – Those who give significantly usually have a deep, meaningful commitment to God and His kingdom. They want their gifts to be well-used and that means that they want to give to an effective, disciple-making church. Tell them that you know that they love God and His work and you need to hear their voices.
- Influential people – Many churches are blessed with senior saints who can no longer serve and lead like they used to, but are still vibrant spiritually, growing in Christ, and held in high esteem by others. Don’t scold them for no longer leading; invite them into this group, listen to their voices and watch them become supporters of your revitalization efforts.
- Early adopting people – Not many of us are, or ever will be, early adopters, but we need the natural, built-in enthusiasm for the new thing which these people are blessed with. They will be the very welcome cheerleaders in your group.
- Young people – Some say that Timothy was a teenager. Some say that some of the Apostles were teenagers. If you have a couple of remarkable teens in your congregation, don’t overlook them as candidates for your dream team.
- Grumpy people – Some people are just plain grumpy. Others, however, are grumpy for good reason: they are leaders in waiting or maybe they’re just unhappy about something they should be unhappy about, like the fact that your church isn’t winning anyone to Christ. Don’t write them off as possibilities.
If there’s simply no way to get these folks together in a group, don’t give up. Use every means of communication and influence which God has given you (please see last week’s post for more on this subject) and continue to teach and inspire your teachable members wherever, whenever and however you can.
To succeed with your revitalization plan, you need a unified – or at least a cooperative – leadership team as your inner circle and a larger second circle, a supportive coalition, to propel your God-given plan to success.
BTW: If your church is an under 50 congregation (and these are more common than they have ever been) and has one adult class on Sunday morning, that might be the perfect place to prayerfully seek to turn your whole congregation into a supportive coalition.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
- Does our church have a ready-made, second circle of influencers which can be turned into a supportive coalition or dream team?
- If not, is there an ideal time and place where a supportive coalition, a “dream team,” might meet on a monthly (or even weekly) basis?
- Using the list above, talk about the people in your congregation who might be good candidates for membership in such a group.
- If there is no possibility of forming these individuals into a group which meets regularly, how can the pastor and other key leaders help them to become supportive of the church’s revitalization process?