Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
The call to be a church revitalizer is a hard call and, although church revitalizers can come in many varieties and skill sets, there are three qualities we must seek to show in our leadership among God’s people as we are working toward revitalization.
Ecclesiastes tells us, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Likewise, a pastor who emphasizes the following three roles in his ministry will be more likely to find his leadership stronger, durable, and enduring.
First, we are to lead from the front. Borrowing a sports metaphor, we are to be the coach of the team to whom God has called us. They have to believe we know the plays and that we not only know where we are going (that’s vision) but that we can guide them there (that’s leadership).
Leading from the front means that we are championing the mission of the church by dreaming, casting vision, and inspiring others to follow. When I was ordained, my pastor challenged me by stating that the leader will either be a sparkplug or a flat tire. My friends, be the sparkplug! There are few hindrances greater to a revitalization than flat tire preachers. If you are the flat tire in your church’s revitalization effort, it is time to either change or be changed. As we seek to lead from the front, we must be careful not to charge so far and fast ahead of our people they mistake us for an enemy and open fire.
This is where the second prong is utterly necessary. We must lead from the middle, as a team captain working alongside the team for every victory. I strive to never miss a work day, to arrive early and leave late, and be among my people as much as possible. There is a saying, “The shepherd must smell like the sheep” and nothing can be more important to a church revitalizer than to get dirty and work hard among their people.
We must pastor without a safety net and without an escape plan. This should go without saying but, we must pastor our people well. They will follow you farther and harder when they really believe you love them, and you must love them!
While we love them as their pastor, we will also take on the third prong of being the cheerleader for our people by leading them from the back. Celebrate every victory and minimize every failure. Barnabas is our obvious example in Scripture as someone who leads from the back, pushing others to find their gifts and pushing them to outshine even himself.
Encourage your people every chance you get, celebrate even the smallest victories, praise God publicly for all He does. A great tool I’ve used is the Soul Winner’s Candle. This is a candle I place somewhere very visible in our sanctuary and whenever someone is saved as a direct result of our prayers, service, sharing, or sacrificing then the one most responsible comes forward to light it before the service. When we see that flame, we celebrate like we are trying to drown out Heaven. This has served to build momentum, celebrate personal evangelism, and give us another excuse to celebrate Jesus together.
If you want to see your church come alive then you must be coach, captain, and cheerleader. These three prongs together in you, as pastor, will give power to your leadership and change your church for His glory and for good!