What do you do when your church stalls? When a plane stalls, pilots are trained to take small steps to re-ignite the engine. But do you know what to do when the engine of your church gives out?
A lot of churches have plateaued or declined in the past two years. It's a bit of a dirty secret among church leaders. It's one thing to spout off statistics about stagnant churches, but it's a whole different sack of potatoes to acknowledge that your church has stalled.
So I won't tell anyone that you're reading this. Our little secret. Here are five things you do when your church stalls.
Your church needs a clear and compelling vision. And that vision needs to be more than 'we exist to glorify God'. Because every church exists to glorify God, right? What you need to know is how your church intends to glorify God.
Where are you going? What problem in your city do you intend to solve? What gifts has God given to your church to solve that problem?
Get a little weird with this. God-glorifying quirkiness in how you articulate your vision is one way your church can regain momentum.
Learn a New Language
Some of us know the limitations of visiting a foreign country and being unable to speak the language fluently. When a church recovers the centrality of the gospel, it takes time to become fluent in a new way of articulating how we trust and obey God in every aspect of life.
Stalled churches don't know the gospel. For gospel-centered churches that stall out, get fluent in the gospel. Translate the message of the gospel into implications and application for ordinary, everyday life.
Take It Up With The Boss
A great boss - a true leader - empowers the people around him to do more than they could on their own. In God, the church has someone who has promised to provide more than we can ask or imagine. But don't miss that this promise of incomprehensible provision assumes imagination and request.
Stalled churches don't pray. Well, maybe they go through the motions and have a few people who pray for the aches and pains of ordinary life. One way to get a church unstuck is to invite a small group of people to pray consistently for the aggressive advance of God's kingdom in and through the people of your church.
Change Out The Spark Plugs
Stalled churches don't know the Holy Spirit. They know about the Holy Spirit. Or maybe they're preoccupied with the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. But stalled churches fail to connect the person of the Holy Spirit to the Word of God in the Scriptures.
If you're stuck, check and see whether your commitment to the Scriptures is fused to a dependence on the Spirit to animate the life that the Bible imagines for followers of Jesus. And if your church is Spirit-filled and Bible-optional, then recover the Scriptures as a filter that keeps the work of God from becoming clogged by our agendas.
Keep It Simple, Sunshine
How many missions and expeditions have stalled because soldiers and explorers didn't know what to do. Churches stall when our shared mission of discipleship is not broken down into simple and sustainable steps.
Does the housewife in your church know what it means when you tell her she should be a disciple-maker? Does the business man in your church know how to love his neighbor? Teaching and training small steps and basic rhythms will go a long way to pulling your church out of freefall.
The Next Right Thing
So there you go. Five ways to help your church get unstuck. Take one of these solutions and create a 3-5 step implementation plan. And if you're at a point where you need help building the plan, send me a note and let's talk about how coaching might be the right solution for you.