Aubrey Malphurs lists ten major barriers that churches are facing as they strive to make disciples. This series of blogs examines these ten components. Here’s the list again.
(1) Lack of vision;
(2) Lack of outreach and passion;
(3) Congregations not willing to change;
(4) Lack of leadership-intentional leader training;
(5) Lack of prayer;
(6) Lack of unity;
(7) Congregation too comfortable;
(8) Little ownership of mission/purpose;
(9) Resistant power structures;
(10) Church unwilling to adapt to a changing culture.
Our last blog looked at “too comfortable.” We now focus on when a congregation has lost its mission.
In Comeback Churches by Ed Stetzer, he writes that a renewed focus on Jesus and the mission of the church was one of the top factors.
“Comeback leaders know that if change is to take place it must take place when the church is renewed spiritually!”
According to the research, when questions were asked regarding “what changed during the comeback?” Church By-laws was last. We often focus on structural changes first when we really need to focus on spiritual changes first. Stetzer adds that the first thing that needs to change is not the bylaws (structure) but the hearts of the people. People must develop a passion for who Jesus is and His mission for their lives.
Ken Hemphill also addresses this factor in his EKG book. He talks about changing the culture, the DNA of the congregation. As leaders, we must constantly challenge our members to walk deeper with the Lord and stay focused on Jesus.
Comeback change takes place when three things occur, Stetzer says.
1. Spiritual energy is evident n the lives of believers and in the church family as a whole. This involves spiritual renewal and revival. People didn’t just come back, but their individual spiritual journey came back.
2. The church gets restructured around its missional purpose. Not only are individuals transformed, but also the church is transformed.
3. There is a long-term commitment to that change. Not just that “we have arrived.” We always have to refocus on spiritual principles. They talked frequently about corporate repentance. They did this through prayer. Many transformed their Wednesday night service into a real prayer meeting for lost people and often involving corporate repentance. Others held all night prayer meetings.
Sometimes we forget that faith is the indispensable, foundational, principle for church growth. It is not all about nickels, noses, and numbers; it is about a spiritual change. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6
Do your members know what the mission of your church is? Have you asked a group in your church to write down the mission of your church in order to see if everyone is on the same page?
What are your plans and strategy to “make disciples” thus refocusing on the mission of the church. This focus will create a climate for people to fall in love with Jesus and that will change your church.
Leadership Journal cited “Spiritual initiatives are vital, especially prayer, fasting, forgiveness and reconciliation.” Which of these four things are you applying in your church and in your ministry?
The most important thing that leaders can do is to lead their people to a renewed focus on the cross, a clearer understanding of the leadership of the Holy Spirit, a renewed passion for Jesus and a renewed commitment to the mission of his church. If you make that your priority, lives will be transformed and your church will be transformed.