Revitalization is one of the most difficult ministries one can be called to. Investing yourself in a people who are in need of being refreshed, renewed, and ultimately revitalized is a tremendous undertaking that is not to be entered into lightly. Those who accept the call to lead a revitalization effort will engage in the hardest and most rewarding work they have ever done. Yet, to see the power of God at work through His people refreshing them, renewing them, and ultimately revitalizing His church is thrilling.
While there are no guaranteed efforts and strategies that will bring about revitalization, there are some guaranteed ways to kill it.
To kill Church Revitalization, stop having your private devotions.
Pastors are just like everyone else: busy. Busy people have a tendency to focus on the most pressing and urgent at the neglect of what is most important. Private devotions are typically one of the first things that get lost in busyness.
Pastors also have the temptation to equate preparation with private devotions. The justification goes something like this; “I’m in the Word studying for this sermon or this Bible study. I’m learning a lot and God is working in me. It is ok if I make my preparation time my devotion time.”
God may be working in you, and you may be learning more than you thought possible, but your preparation time is just that—time of preparation. You are preparing. Your end goal is to produce a lesson, a message, an article, or book. That goal changes your approach to how you read through the Bible.
In your private devotions your end goal is what God wants to do in you. How He is shaping you, convicting you, and changing you into the image of His son. You cannot effectively live a Christian life, be joyfully engaged in ministry, or, more specifically, lead a revitalization effort if you are not personally engaging in the word through reading, meditating, and memorization. Your study and preparation time can never be an excuse to miss your devotions. Your devotions should be kindling to fuel the flame of study—not the other way around.
Stay in the word.
To kill Church Revitalization, stop having times of private prayer
It is easy to shift into only praying in public and disregarding times of private prayer. The danger though is that when times of private prayer cease so does renewal in your life and the life of the church. Again, busyness is often the primary factor that derails private prayer. Moving from one good activity to another, one good ministry to the next. Before long it is very clear that the schedule is full but the soul is empty.
To combat the slide into prayer neglect demands developing and practicing an intentional manner in which you pray. Set a time to pray. Create a standing appointment to get on your knees.
To be intentional about your times of prayer try keeping a running list of prayer items. If you prefer digital, keep a list on your phone. If analog, use a set of 3×5 index cards.
Some examples for your intentional prayer effort are your spouse and your family, lost people in your life, ministry efforts, missions, current events, and more. There is more than one way to practice intentional prayer, but it must be intentional.
In the classic work Power Through Prayer, E.M. Bounds writes, “Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.”
Be intentional about praying.
To kill Church Revitalization, start caring more about the revitalization effort than the people being revitalized.
It does not take very long to be in ministry to start looking at people as projects. The shift is subtle, and often not even noticed until a length of time has passed and one day the Holy Spirit painfully brings to your attention that you care more about the project of revitalization than the people who are being revitalized.
Pastors, we must remember that people are not projects, and the church is not your platform.
Revitalization demands a strategy, it requires projects and good, consistent leadership. Yet the revitalization pastor must be on guard against valuing the project of revitalization over the people who are being revitalized.
The church is in great need of being renewed, refreshed, and revitalized. Those who have been called to pastor, those called to be agents of renewal, must be on guard against becoming apart of the valley of dried bones.
Neglecting personal and private devotions and looking at people as the pathway to your success is the way to live in the valley of dry bones. Keeping these is vital towards continually renewing and refreshing your own soul.