Change happens. Whether we like it or not the world is different today than it was last week. And it is certainly different than it was ten years ago. The world is constantly changing. Culture is constantly shifting. Certainly some of the culture shifts are not good. Some changes are taking us further away from God’s intention for this world. One of the most prominent examples is the current fascination with gender and sexuality. I suppose every generation deals with its own issues of right and wrong. And it is the responsibility of the church to represent God’s way. The church is called to be counter-cultural. Yet, there are some culture shifts that need to take place within the church. Especially churches that need revitalization.
Eight Culture Shifts
- From Compromise to Truth – Some of our churches have drifted away from truth. Perhaps they wanted to be more relevant to the changing culture. But if these churches are going to experience true revitalization they must have a culture shift to biblical truth.
- From Comfortable Stability to Radical Obedience – In a constantly changing world, we crave stability. We want the proverbial merry-go-round to stop turning. In church this leads us to desire stability. We want our leaders to make us comfortable. Radical obedience to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is not comfortable. But it is necessary for a church to experience true revitalization.
- From Control to Trust – Churches that desire comfortable stability will often erect organizational structures to ensure that change does not happen. In these churches policies and procedures exist to maintain control. Members are more concerned with the bylaws than the Bible. But churches that experience revitalization are willing to follow biblical leadership.
- From Tradition to Effectiveness – Tradition is important. History matters. But just because you have always done something doesn’t mean you should keep on doing it. Many of us are open to change as long as it doesn’t affect us. Are we willing to do whatever it takes to effective in ministry?
- From Friendly to Loving – I have never met a church that did not think it was loving. But what most church members mean is that they love one another (most of the time) and they are friendly toward others (sometimes). Revitalizing churches have developed a loving church culture.
- From Ministry to Mission – In the past many churches established attractive ministries and invited others to “come and see.” And this approach worked fairly well in a homogenous culture. Most churches needing revitalization are not in homogenous communities. The church does not reflect the neighborhood. In order to reach a cross-cultural community they need to adopt a missional approach.
- From Church Growth to Church Health – I have mentioned before that I am a product of the church growth movement. I have led churches to experience numerical growth. Baptisms increased. Budgets increased. Attendance increased. We experienced growth. But I am not sure we experienced health. An unhealthy church can experience growth for a while. Healthy churches focus on multiplying disciples.
- From Seating Capacity to Sending Capacity – This gets to the heart of the church’s culture. And it is an expression of the church’s understanding of successful discipleship. Revitalizing churches are more concerned with sending disciples to make disciples than with gathering disciples into holy huddles. Too many of our churches measure success by how many people we have on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night (you see my traditional Baptist background coming out). We have a church culture based on seating rather than sending!
In my experience, churches that are stuck or struggling have at least one thing in common. They have experienced culture drift. They have moved away from a great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. They have drifted away from an outward focus. And they have drifted toward self preservation.
I am praying for a mighty movement of God to bring about revival and revitalization in stuck and struggling churches. I am praying for a massive shift in church culture.
Rob Paul is a church revitalization strategist with over three decades of experience serving established Southern Baptist churches in pastoral ministry. He has a passion for encouraging and equipping established churches to experience revival and revitalization by God’s grace and for His glory. To find out more about Rob Paul Ministries or to financially support the work of church revitalization, visit https://robpaul.net