I used the word “dream” in my title instead of the more popular, “vision” because I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.
And it can. God is revitalizing formerly dying churches every day.
But let’s back up for a minute:
Five weeks ago, I introduced the idea of a revitalization playbook. The playbook will not be a step-by-step manual for church renewal, for I don’t believe that creating a universally applicable, chronological, revitalization plan is possible.
But it is going to be a valuable resource, like the playbook of a football team which has a listing of the plays which it has practiced extensively.
And I do believe that the first three plays can be scripted. First, you must start with helping your people to face the true condition of their church. Second, you must help your congregation to take responsibility for the condition of their church. Third, as a revitalization pastor you must lead your people to begin praying for revitalization.
After these three scripted plays, you can choose plays based on the needs of your congregation, the wisdom of your leadership team and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So I’m not necessarily saying that this play should be your fourth, but it’s definitely a very effective play to run: Give your congregation a simple dream of a revived church.
I almost said, “give your congregation an exorbitant amount of hope,” but I think that the best way you can give life-changing hope is to give your people a simple, compelling dream to latch unto.
And I’m writing about a dream or vision today because clarifying your mission is not enough to get people excited. I wrote about this in more detail here, but here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:
Your church’s mission was given as a command: “Make disciples.” “Get with it.” “Get to work.” It’s as exciting as anything on earth, but it’s still a command. Some of us are highly motivated by this command; others among us bristle against all commands.
So make sure your congregation knows what its mission is, but by all means, as soon as possible, give them a simple dream of a revived church as well.
Here’s What I’m Talking About:
A Vision – A vision or dream is a mental picture of a preferable future. If you are a pastor you almost certainly have a vision, a dream, for what your church could and should be in the future. If you tell me you don’t, I’ll get you on the phone and coax it out of you with a few questions.
A Biblical Vision – If you’ve soaked in and taught the New Testament for a few years, you likely have some pretty strong (and valid) ideas about what a Bible-obeying church should be. This is a place where some assertiveness is in order: tell your people about your Biblical vision for your church! If you love them, they are probably waiting to hear it and will welcome it with joy.
An Exciting Vision – Again, I’m not talking about the big crowd or the huge campus. Those are not necessarily God’s idea of success, are they? But a congregation which is functioning like the church of Acts two or I Thessalonians one is an exciting thing to be a part of. If you’ve ever been involved with such a group, you know how enjoyable it is. Now paint that vision for your people.
A Simple Vision – I wish I had known forty years ago how important it is to keep things simple. The group that led me to Christ had Jesus Himself, they had Bibles and they had each other. They had a part time leader. Evangelism went on in dormitory rooms. The discipling of new believers also took place mostly in dorm rooms. They used a few simple teaching tools and booklets. Win people. Build them up. Send them out. Simple.
Give your people a simple, Biblical vision or dream of an exciting Biblical church.
Here’s How To Communicate That Simple Vision Effectively
Sermons – Paint the picture of what you believe God wants. Make it vivid. Make it specific, for it will only be as dynamic as it is specific. Make it clear. Paint the picture again and again. Use stories to illustrate what you’re talking about.
Conversations – As we shared last week regarding prayer, “drip” the dream, which you’ve preached in sermons, into your conversations. Wear it on your sleeve. It hurts to say this, but many church members pay little attention to what is said in sermons. They will believe that you actually mean it when you share the dream in individual conversations.
Articles/blogs/devotionals, etc. – If there are other ways that you communicate your heart, your passions, your concerns, your dreams, to your people, get your simple, Biblical, vision out there. Broadcast it at every opportunity. Don’t let this be a half-hearted, “I’m hedging my bets” effort. Risk it all. Tell them your dreams.
Turn it into plans/proposals/strategies/projects – When your dream is embraced by your congregation, turn its accomplishment into a plan. Consider where you are now, where you need to arrive and the steps that will need to be taken to get there. When Nehemiah presented the dream of a rebuilt Jerusalem, protected by a completed, restored wall, he was ready and waiting to present a plan for the completion of the project. A plan helps a congregation to enthusiastically buy into the dream.
Prayers – You can model your passion and your faith with your prayers. Private prayers, prayers in small groups, prayers in meetings, prayers from the pulpit. The cumulative effect will be to convince your congregation that you are passionate about your simple, Biblical, dream of a revived church.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
- Where are we at in the revitalization process at our church? Have we started? Have we run any of the three “scripted” plays?
- If the pastor is in this group, have him share his own (Biblical) dreams for your church. If he’s not sure that he has any, ask him how he believes God wants your church to change.
- Can these thoughts be turned into a compelling, simple, exciting, Biblical dream? Work on this together.
- What has been done to communicate this dream to your congregation? What could be done in the near future?
- Where is your leadership team in the creation of a plan (or strategy) to take the church from where it is to where God wants it to go?