The first few years of church revitalization were hard. I’ve told people they were some of the hardest years of my career. I had to learn how to remain sane.
But we survived.
And even thrived. Now I have the opportunity to speak to thousands of pastors attempting revitalization.
I have learned there may be a few secrets to lasting through the hard days of revitalization.
7 secrets to staying sane in church revitilization:
Dogmatically protect your time.
Established churches will eat your calendar if you’re not intentional. I needed to focus my energies in a few key places. There will always be interruptions, but I needed sufficient time to plan, meditate on Scriptures, and prepare for Sunday.
Someone else controls my calendar.
It is easier for someone else to say no. And no was said a lot. In order to be strategic, I had to control my calendar if it wasn’t an emergency and delegate all that I could to other staff members.
(I realize some pastors don’t have staff to rely on like I did, but many of the requests I received could have also been handled by a volunteer.)
Don’t cower to the few bullies.
There are always a few people who will try to derail anything positive taking place. Most people don’t like change, especially if it makes them personally uncomfortable. But you can’t allow a few people to dictate the direction of the church.
In my experience, people complain more fluently than they take the time to encourage. So, I have a file to save encouraging notes and emails. This was incredibly helpful in days where there seemed to be more negativity. Reading through this file reminded me there are people who supported us.
Pick battles carefully.
Some things are simply not worth the fight. Plus, I didn’t want to steal the culture from the church in the process of revitalizing it. Not everything needed changing and some things I could live with even if they never did.
We couldn’t do everything at once. I tried to focus on no more than two or three major objectives at a time. We took up to a year to make most of the major changes. Staying sane in church revitalization requires a long term approach.
Slip away frequently.
I knew going in I wanted to protect my marriage and my heart. During the busiest and most stressful seasons, Cheryl and I took more time away – not less. I was working plenty, but I knew we needed this time. These times refueled me to continue the journey.
Here’s to you staying sane in church revitalization. If I can help you through my coaching or consulting ministry, please let me know.