Church renewal depends on leadership) points out necessary characteristics of a leader who can turn a declining church into a thriving one. The change agent is inwardly secure, relational, patient, confident, aware of own limitations, and loves the church.
Another important factor I would add is that a change agent is a communicator. He must articulate the vision for the congregation and repeat it often in a variety of ways. The vision must be echoed in sermons, hymn selections, special music and skits.
Every piece of good news that shows the church alive and on mission must be shouted from the rooftops. Negative statements must quickly be countered with positive ones. When there are inevitable setbacks and bad news must be delivered it must be done with a note of hope for the future.
Newsletters, email, web pages, bulletin boards and the Sunday morning bulletin should feature pictures (lots of them) and stories of the life of the church. Celebrating small victories changes defeatist attitudes. First, the negative changes to wait and see. Small victories change the wait and see to hopeful. Soon, people will start to jump on the bandwagon.
Communication also involves tact. Every church member is important and deserves to be heard. Love the opposition and listen to the complaints. Counter bad attitudes gently. Many times people need to voice a negative opinion but will not vote against an idea. Some will vote against it but support the majority.
Staying ahead of negative gossip means posing the negative questions openly and answering objections frankly. Open discussion stops the murmuring and allows church members to defend a new idea.
By constantly communicating information the change agent keeps control of the conversation, keeps the vision alive, and keeps the attitude positive.
Living Springs Church of San Antonio will host a conference for leaders of churches in transition and new church starts on March 26-28. I will be speaking on the first night,
Click here for more information about the “It’s Time” conference.