By Rob Hurtgen
We’re all revitalizers now.
Pastors and church leaders worldwide are sorting out the immediate and long-term impact the coronavirus will have on their church. In some regions the effects are much more devastating than in others.
A broad range of reading has led me to the conclusion that up to 40% of my congregation won’t return. The unwelcome crisis has placed all pastors and church leaders in the position of being revitalizers.
A revitalizing leader’s mission is to strive to see the Lord restore health and vitality to a church by leading the people to seek the heart of God and live out His purposes.
I’m currently recovering from COVID. My ongoing recovery has prompted thoughts toward three essential practices for ministry and revitalization in my church.
The church needs solid biblical preaching. God’s people are restored when they encounter the living God through His living Word to know how to live the life they ought to live.
Every encounter God’s people have with Him through His Word brings restoration.
In Recovering Holiness, J.I. Packer poses three questions preaching should address: What does this passage tell me about God? What does this passage tell me about living? What does this passage tell me about my own life today?
Each of these questions lead us to encounter the living God through His word as well as think through the needs, mindset, and heart posture of the congregation hearing the message.
Your people need to know the Lord. They need to know how their lives can honor the Lord. They need to have a biblical lens through which to see their world.
Your church needs to hear from God’s Word how to live out a life of faith in turbulent times.
Prayer is critical. Yet prayer is often the first of many ministries pressured to be removed from personal and corporate practice. Prayer is vital, however, in times of peace and panic.
In his classic work How To Pray, R.A. Torrey writes:
Some of us let the hurry of our lives crowd prayer out, and what a waste of time and energy and nerve force there is by the constant worry! One night of prayer will save us from the many nights of insomnia. Time spent in prayer is not wasted but time invested at big interest.”
Gather and pray. Stay home and pray. Send out messages that you’re praying for others. Gather a video conference and pray. Keep and practice prayer lists. Tell stories of answered prayer. Make ways to pray.
Revitalization of heart and church cannot be achieved absent from diligent and intentional seeking of the Lord. Every mighty movement of God began with a faithful few who committed to praying in season and out of season.
Don’t neglect your times of prayer.
3. Pastoral Care
A third priority is creative pastoral care. LifeWay Research recently found that one of the top five concerns for pastors is pastoral care from a distance.
The community spread in your area may not allow for in-home visits, but your phone can enter the house. Your health may inhibit an ability to be present with others.
Yet, you’re called to know well the conditions of your flock (Proverbs 27:23).
Take time to write notecards. Send text messages and emails. Make phone calls. Get out as you’re able and be with people in a safe way. Apply physical distancing guidelines so you can be socially together. Invest yourself in people.
You may not feel there’s much you can do right now. Restrictions where you are, accompanied by personal and legitimate fears, may inhibit the type of ministry you are used to possessing.
Now, however, is not the time to grow weary nor discouraged. Now is the time to return to the fundamentals of ministry: preaching, praying, and applying pastoral care.
We’re all revitalizers. We’re all seeking the heart of God to restore health and vitality to our churches.