Church growth is something a few churches seem to have while most do not. Growth in churches from people not already attached to a former church in your town is even more rare. Even more rare than this is growth in people finding Jesus for the first time in their lives. How do we bring revival? What steps can a church take to bring people to Christ?
There are books, seminars, and conferences of shiny churches that many love to emulate. But, the secret is a lot simpler and even less dramatic than we might think. It may not even involve praying all day long. The pastor may not have to be a magnetic speaker, or the building with an amazing kids space. Could it be that a few small behaviors of the leadership team stand in the way?
Unfortunately, church leaders can keep a church of very sincere people in plateau or even cause decline with the messages we send. And, there are things that church leaders think are not visible to the community that actually infect everything they do, sending messages that may very well kill revival not just in their church but in the community at large. Here is a list of five revival killers.
- Accounting errors: Number one on the list is the idea that if your church does not pay the bills on time, apply highly ethical accounting practices, or keep a rainy-day fund then it is likely that “giving units” are mentioned more in leadership meetings than the idea that “people matter to God”. Conflict is handled poorly since appeasing “big givers” even if not spoken is practiced. The message you send: People matter for our paycheck.
- Sheep stealing: Another “glass is half full” approach is to sit around and play chess when a church in town loses people because of an event like a pastor leaving, or a church split. “Wow, we might be able to get that worship leader here from that church.” If you don’t create new sheep and develop them, then you likely struggle to keep what you even have. The message you send: People are a commodity.
- Program hype: If you only had a better building, more staffing, or could get that speaker for your outreach then you might be able to reach your town. There are charts on the wall on how you can grow your church . They look cool, too. But, hype in programs that do not have a cause attached are hollow. You chase your own tail trying to please people. The message you send: People are consumers.
- Stingy tipping: Maybe your church is pretty big already, or not. But, you are the pastor so you like your steak perfect. After you send it a fourth time, you do your usual miserly tip. This is after you hope a church member that frequents the place buys your ticket. What you don’t know is that the waitress who is seeking God has frequented the back row of your church–but, not any longer. The message you send: People serve the leader.
- Comparison addiction: The churches down the street have a younger pastor, they play newer music, or they run more services than your church does so envy sweats from your pores. You feel the sudden urge to start a campus when your building is not even full yet. People can smell that, you know. Your church might even be doing pretty well, or above average. That might feel too good, however. The message you send: People are meant to feed my ego.
All of these behind-the-scenes conversations at board and staff meetings if written on the wall of your church will keep people away. The truth is our walls contain the messages if we value, regardless of whether we think we say them or not. We might pray all day long, but revival is stopped because our thinking is all wrong and hearts are cold. People matter to God. All the other messages we send potentially choke out the main message. I believe revival in a city starts with leaders who value who God values–people.
Do you not agree that if a majority of churches in your town stopped the above behaviors a revival could spark?