When I talk to pastors a common phrase I hear is ‘getting back to normal’. That is never going to happen. Because of the very nature of change, things are never going back to whatever you think normal was. I also hear pastors mention ‘a new normal’. Forget about it. Churches should never conform to a standard, business as usual, normal existence. What pastors and their churches can and should strive for is a renewal, which can be defined as the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken. (I hate to admit it, but doesn’t that sound like a lot of churches?)
I believe there are three platforms for renewal to happen in our churches.
The first renewal that must take place is a personal one. It begins in the heart and mind of the leader. We cannot take people further than we have been ourselves. We cannot expect other people to be more committed to Jesus and his church that we are. We cannot expect other people or our church to grow unless we are willing to continue growing ourselves and our ministry. We cannot expect other people to change unless we are willing to first identify what needs to change in us and then take the necessary steps to bring that change about. Effective leadership requires us to model in ourselves the renewal we want in our churches.
The second stage has to do with missional renewal. What is our church’s purpose? Your church must rethink what it is here for. The church must come to a new realization that we are not here for ourselves, we have a purpose, an objective; a mission to be accomplished. I think Jesus laid out that mission specifically when he said, “Go make disciples.” (Matthew 28:19)
We are not supposed to be just a ‘Great Commandment’ following church that loves God and loves the one another’s who are already in church. God has a ‘Great Commission’ for us to fulfill as well; a kingdom to be built. Understanding this and making God’s purposes our leadership responsibility will inevitably help our church to grow.
The third renewal is a structural or organizational renewal. As your church begins to grow, the way it is organized, the way it makes decisions, also must change. This is the principal Jesus taught when he said, “You cannot put new wine in old wine skins” (Luke 5:37). Many of us are trying to put the wine of God’s renewing spirit into an organization that has hardened and is brittle with age. The ‘old wine skins’ are not structured to allow a fermenting and vibrant church to grow in a healthy way. If you insist on keeping the normal, ‘old wineskins’ organization, it’s going to impede growth.
We read in Revelation that the risen and exalted Christ is “making all things new”. (Revelation 21:5) Today he challenges us to make new ourselves, our mission and structure of our church. That’s not normal, that’s the Gospel renewed.
Hey Pastors, Bill TB here.
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See you on the other side!