June 2011


I work with a lot of churches that are in the process of intentional revitalization.  This is often a strenuous exercise and commitment on the congregation that they have chosen to engage to become a vital congregation.  One of the core success principles is “connect with your ministry community”.

There are some churches that are experiencing success in reconnecting to the community, energizing spiritual formation, developing new styles of worship and infusing a new sense of purpose within the congregation.  This is exciting to see as pastors and congregations do a community asset map, congregational asset map, analyze Mission Insite demographics and engage in focus groups in the community.

I am also noticing another trend.  There are congregations who are working on revitalization but experiencing little success, in fact many of these congregations are stagnant or still in decline.  I have conducted and just completed a non scientific analysis and I have concluded that they have more administrative meetings than they have ministry gatherings.

The administrative tasks of committees are important to ordering the life of the church but ministry takes place in the small groups, community fellowships, serving the needs of those who live in our communities, worship, and sharing the Gospel with those who are far from God.  I fear that too many UMC pastors are well equipped as administrative managers but not transformative congregational leaders.  Administrative management is safe because we know what to expect but transformative ministry is sometimes messy and there are no road maps.

To accomplish the goals of the Call to Action and to revitalize congregations,  pastors must shift from a task management style of leadership to a visionary, transformative style of leadership.

  • Identify and attend leadership training opportunities
  • Streamline your administrative tasks.  Eliminate any unnecessary meetings
  • Reduce the number of people who are on the church council
  • Increase the number of leaders who participate in small groups
  • Ask the question, “how is this gathering going to move our congregation closer to achieving our mission and vision?”  (Non life transforming meetings are not a good use of a disciple’s time)
These are just a few things that I am watching revitalizing congregations do that are working.

This morning I was out walking.  My goal was 3 ½ miles in an hour and I was focused on attaining my goals.  During the walk I passed two young ladies and shortly after passing them I heard them scream.  I turned and ran back to them to discover a man in the brush on the side of the road.  After assuring that the women were ok, I brought the homeless man to Subway and ordered him breakfast and called a family member.

I left the Subway repenting for being so focused on my walk and my agenda that I passed a person in need.  He was not easy to spot, I was not especially looking for anyone but he was there and I passed him.

Lord, never let me be so focused that I miss opportunities to be your hands and feet for those who are marginalized, with no voice and left out of mainstream society.