When churches seek to regain their health and vitality, tensions can rise inside the local church. Turning around a sick and dying church often reveals things that were previously hidden. As they come to the light, these revelations can be unnerving, to say the least.
In times of transition …
- Things do not stay the same. While this seems obvious, it is amazing how many people are hoping for ‘window dressing’ change. When real change starts happening, these are the people who shout and holler. Helping people be truly prepared for real change is a large part of the leaders task.
- People are not what they seem. When things change, people’s real identities and character are often exposed. Some of the ‘pillars’ of the local church will be exposed as spiritual frauds while some of the quiet and unnoticed people will move to the forefront as the next generation of godly leadership. There’s a little maxim to follow during transition: ‘What I am in the storm, is all that I am.’ Guiding God’s people through this mine field is a top priority of the leader.
- The Church is no longer about me. One of the greatest causes of church failure is the self-possessed nature of those who desire the focus of the church ministries to be on them. Their motto is, “It’s all about me.” Transitional times change our focus to others. We now ask the question, “How can I show those outside the congregation God’s love?”
- God can no longer be distant. In dying churches one of the most amazing sights to see is when we look at the sanctuary during worship. A few people sit here, a few more over there, and yet another small group over there. Love draws us together … especially in worship. In order for change to happen, we need to be infused with God’s love and power. Building a heart of love in God’s flock is a prime action of the leader during times of transition.
- Life’s purpose is no longer a theory. In transitioning from death to life, church can no longer be a weekend activity for me. Now, I am a vital part of the church. I am needed to do God’s will in my community. Faith is no longer a theory. Now I choose to live out the Christ life and that changes everything!
Often, when we are bringing life from the decay of death, the foundations we trusted crumble. As those caricatures of the past begin to be replaced with the transparent faithfulness of a new generation, life begins to return to God’s people.
Adapted from Dr. Smith’s new book in process, “The Tantrum-Driven Church.”