This has been an amazing year for Rob Paul Ministries. Last week I shared the top five personal posts from the past year. This week I am sharing the Top Ten Ministry Posts from 2018. I am grateful for the churches that have invited me into their lives and for readers, prayer warriors, encouragers, and financial supporters. I could not do this without you! Here is a look back at our top ten ministry posts from this past year. Enjoy!
After sixteen years of her husband serving in ministry a pastor’s wife said to him, “If I had it to do all over again, I would not have married a pastor.” Another long-time pastor’s wife was asked to describe the ideal church. She responded, “Any church where I am not the pastor’s wife.” Neither of these ladies had a problem with their husbands. They had healthy marriages. But like so many ministry wives they had experienced loneliness, unrealistic expectations, even betrayal in the church. Their responses should break the hearts of every member of every church.
A friend recently asked me how he could know if his church needed revitalization. I struggled to give a definitive answer. So I compiled a list of signs that indicate a church is heading for trouble and needs revitalization. Some of these come from churches I have consulted or worked with over the years. Others come from conversations with colleagues in ministry. In order to make the final list, the sign had to have been present in multiple churches.
The text message read, “I think we have hit bottom. There is nowhere but up now.” The person sending the text is a member of a church that is in serious trouble. Serious. Trouble. After a long period of slow decline they have begun spiraling quickly towards death. Their attendance is down nearly 30% over the previous year. It is the largest one-year decline in the church’s history. Unfortunately, I fear the person sending the text is wrong. They have not hit bottom. And here is why…
I decided to visit the church with the worshipful heart of a Jesus follower and the critical eyes of a church consultant. It was only one visit, so there is no way for me to evaluate all that the church is doing for the Kingdom. But I could react to my first impressions. I have written about first impressions and guest services before. First impressions matter. Guest services are important.
I am not advocating a bull in the china shop approach, but the kind of change that many of our churches need to embrace will result in conflict. As the need for radical change increases, the probability of conflict will also increase. Some members will label leaders as “church wreckers” or worse. Some members will try to get those leaders fired. Other members will leave. The way that the church responds to the conflict will determine what kind of four-letter word emerges from CHANGE… Last time I checked, HOPE is a four-letter word!
Social media is a powerful tool, but there is also a dark side to social media as it continues to be a primary battle field for fighting the ongoing and escalating culture war. Not a day goes by without some heated exchange showing up on my newsfeed over at least one controversial issue. Last week I monitored a really nasty exchange that involved several friends and former church members fighting over one such issue on Facebook. Rarely a day goes by that someone doesn’t post some ridiculous picture, meme or “fake news” story that is only intended to stir the proverbial pot.
I recently had a conversation with a dear friend who is a member of a church that is in desperate need of revitalization. Truthfully, if this church does not experience a turnaround very soon, it is going to die. They have called a pastor who is trained in revitalization, but things have not yet turned around. My friend was discouraged. He asked me what he should do. My response was simple. Pray for your pastor. Here are six prayer requests that every pastor needs.
I am incredibly excited to announce that Rob Paul Ministries and Church Revitalization Resources is partnering with Thom Rainer and the Revitalize Network to offer Revive and Revitalize Leadership Coaching. The coaching utilizes the Revitalize Bundle consisting of three tools to help you know your self, your church, and your community better. These assessments will provide you with the information you need to move forward with revitalization in your church.
Because of the work that I do with struggling churches I hear a lot of conflict stories. I also see the consequences of the conflict. Some consequences are intended. A church bully wants to run off a pastor. He accomplishes his goal. A group wants more resources devoted to meeting their needs so they do whatever they have to in order to make it happen. Those are intended consequences. Like the US Air Force dropping a bomb on an enemy target, they hit their mark. But sometimes those bombs have collateral damage on the battlefield… And in the church.
Last week I received an email from an associational director of missions who said, “It’s hard to get churches in the rural south to consider revitalization.” I don’t think we have ever had more need for revitalization than we do right now. And we have never had more resources targeted to help stuck, struggling and spiraling churches than we do right now. So why do churches refuse to revitalize? Here are five reasons churches refuse to revitalize: