Charles Revis, Executive Minister, ABC of the Northwest
One definition of leadership is simple, “Knowing what needs to be done and then doing it” (Leith Anderson). Good leaders not only discern what must be done, they act. Many in leadership positions never lead because they fail to act. They wait for others to move. This is deferring leadership. Good leaders know that their actions will create pushback. Resistance is expected, but they lead anyway.
During a recent gather of ABCNW’s mentor pastors I asked the group to identify the most significant moves they made that set the stage for transformation in their own congregations. The responses were as varied as they were enlightening. I’ve listed them for you to examine.
Perhaps these moves will inspire you to make needed changes in your own church. If you would like more information about any one of these simply send me an email, identify which number and I will be happy to provide you with more details. Here’s the list:
1. I identified the spiritual strongholds. One was money. The congregation thought that money in the bank would guarantee their future and instead it was tying them up in knots. They changed their attitude towards money. Now, they are generous, especially when moving ahead with new ministry initiatives! And, ministries have flourished.
2. I worked at increasing my spiritual depth as the pastor and stopped being the church’s chaplain.
3. I trained my leaders in the materials that the Region has had me study. I opened up this training to anyone who would participate. Plus, we took our first missional steps, getting out into the community. Then we moved from there, looking for open doors. The “Life on Loan” training resource by Rick Rusaw was helpful in training and inspiring our people.
4. Persistence through a long, slow-paced journey of transition while keeping our eyes on Jesus. I introduced change, there would be conflict, things would settle down, then growth happened.
5. I have developed a team of evangelists who are always looking for outreach opportunities to touch the community.
6. I led our church to move from an inward orientation to outward focus. Getting them out into the community was critical. We moved from survival to ministering.
7. I focused on worship issues! We moved towards excellence. Streamlined the flow of worship. Dropped the embarrassing thing that the church used to do that put visitors on the spot. Now our worship service is more inviting to the newcomer and the existing church attender.
8. I changed the mental models. This was the big one! We moved from the “we are the church people” versus “those are the non-church people” perspective in our stance towards the people in our small town. We blew that mental model up. Now we approach the people in our community as people we love and care about regardless of their attendance on Sunday morning.
9. I strengthened the identity and confidence of the congregation; and then turned it outward. We’ve been using theater productions to raise our profile, first at the church, then out in the community. Two-thirds of the cast of the last production came from outside our church. We adopted a school. We provided housing for a teacher. We send encouraging notes to the teachers. Provide cookies. We do a Service Sunday. We’ve gone to the elementary school and painted equipment.
10. I started small groups using Purpose Driven materials, then moved to sermon-driven small groups. We now call these “Growth Groups”. They’ve helped to transition our church in the right direction as we’ve grown.
11. Our church has become heavily involved in mission teams: in our local community and overseas. We constantly encourage our people with these words, “Giving ourselves away, moving in an outward direction.” The turning point for us came when our people engaged in missions, hands on. This push continues to build a spirit of giving themselves away.
12. First we changed our structure from multi-committees to a single board. This has freed up people for ministry. Second thing, I’ve been receiving coaching through Nelson Searcy’s ministry. Attendance is up and so is involvement in small groups.
13. I’ve been working to change the DNA of our church over the last several years and it is now catching fire. For training we use “The Externally Focused Church” by Rick Rusaw and “Present-Future” by Reggie McNeal.
14. The greatest transition has taken place within me as the pastor. Also, we’ve changed the simple structure things, and have also focused on bringing the heart back to the church.
15. I’ve led numerous changes. One noteworthy change was in our seating pattern in the main sanctuary. We moved from a shotgun arrangement to a sideways format which moved every seat closer to the front. This has increased worship involvement. Another change: We no longer have multiple standing committees and boards. Our structure is organized around ministry. Focus on ministry has resulted in growth.