There are many struggling churches in mainline denominations that aspire to Make disciples for Christ, Serve the Community and Impact the World. Often they struggle with limited finances, limited energy and few people. Efforts to reach more people and share the life changing message of Jesus Christ seem futile and the few ideas that do work seem to never provide the traction necessary to change the direction of the congregations decline.    I believe that there is something to learn from relevant success stories of congregations that have already gone through the process of revitalizing and restoring their mission. The role of the transformative, revitalizing pastor is to help the congregation discover the best practices to achieving the long term mission and vision. . As a pastoral and leadership coach here are some suggestions to accelerate the learning curve:

  1. Find multiple examples of congregations with similar demographics and a similar ministry context that have coped with equivalent challenges successfully. Learn from their mistakes, experiences and successes
  2. Find congregations that model excellence in the ministry areas that you desire to grow in even if the resources are outside of your denomination in a congregation that has no ministry context similarities.  Learn what the best practices are and let them become the standards that your strive for as you revision the ministry.
  3. Develop a step by step logic model of the reasons for the best practices and the success of the turnaround churches. Look for features that they share in common.
  4. Present these shared “success factors” as precepts, guidelines, and principles that can be implemented by all those who wish to achieve similar levels of success.
  5. Document your journey by video, journaling, pictures and recordings.
  6. Celebrate mini successes along the journey and review the ultimate goal and objectives often
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This is a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

If students are experiencing this type of disconnect in educational settings it should be a message to those who are in ministry attempting to reach young adults.  Our approach will not be successful if we continue to use 20th century approaches.  The way that we communicate the essentials of our message must be relevant and in a media or presentation form that fits the lifestyle of 21st Century young adults.

Making Disciples requires  adaptability to the culture without compromising the message.

(CBS) Stand back all bosses! A new breed of American worker is about attack everything you hold sacred: from giving orders, to your starched white shirt and tie. They are called, among other things, “millennials.” There are about 80 million of them, born between 1980 and 1995, and they’re rapidly taking over from the baby boomers who are now pushing 60.They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it.

As correspondent Morley Safer reports, corporate America is so unnerved by all this that companies like Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, Disney and scores of others are hiring consultants to teach them how to deal with this generation that only takes “yes” for an answer.

The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.

This is a report from 60 Minutes on the Millennial Generation  It is especially informative for churches in revitalization.  As we pray and discern our target ministry population it pays to understand the cultural dynamics of the population.  Analog churches will be challenged to reach digital generation people.  Churches that are dedicated to print media without simultaneously developing their digital presence will be obsolete in less than 10 years.  Churches that are in revitalization should pay attention to the millennials and develop ministries that will introduce this generation to Jesus Christ in ways that are relevant to their life experience.