Overcoming Stagnation in the Church
TEXT: Rev. 2:1-3
God commands, demands, desires and loves a strong, solid, prevailing, growing, dynamic, militant and glorious church, Matt. 16:18; Eph. 5:27, Ps. 92:12-14; Isa. 60:22; ph. 4:16. Jesus is not coming for a sin-sick, stagnant, struggling and demon-invested church, but rather a growing, going, groaning, glowing, giving, goal -oriented and glorious church. To become such a reputable church, we must overcome every form of stagnation today.
Rev. 2:1-3: Stagnation means to stop growing, developing and progressing. To get stuck at a point, to stop moving and stand still. To remain at a spot for a period of time. In the church, stagnation does come in these forms.
- Recording less than 10% growth in a year
- Balanced exodus of members
- Absence of tangible progress and growth
- Routine, mechanical, cold, formal and lifeless services
- General decline and downward spiral
- Mufti various problems that was once unheard of
- Complaining, murmuring and discouragement of members
- Power tussle among leaders; assistants and wife
- Civil wars and intertribal wars.
REASONS FOR STAGNATION AND STRUGGLING
The process of becoming a stagnant and struggling church usually goes in the following progression:
- God move upon Man
- Gives him a Ministry
- Gives him Multiplication
- Turns to a Movement
- But sadly ends up as a Monument, due to lots of man-made administrative systems, conservatism and personal prejudices.
Not much is available on why churches come to the position of stagnancy, but our research and training among of several churches have come up with interesting factors. Here are some of them:
- Half-baked leader(s)
- Lack of clear calling and vision
- Improper administration
- Wrong financial policy
- Fear and resistant of change
- Lack of personal growth
- Maintenance orientation
- Divisive internal politics
- Usurpation of authority by elders and boards.
- Bureaucracy, red-carpet and centralised system
- Inability to meet peoples need
- Tolerating sin and evil
- Unbalanced emphasis
HOW TO OVERCOME STAGNATION IN THE CHURCH
Overcoming stagnation in the church requires for a lull, dedicated and focussed heart. It takes determination, risk, willingness to embrace change and readiness to face challenges. It is not for boys, but real men. The leader that will lift up a church from stagnation level must be tough and tender, wise as serpent and harmless as dove. To overcoming stagnation is not a programme but a process. Decline is gradual and turns around plus fruitfulness is also a gradual process. The following steps will help in no small measure.
- Leadership skills
I Cor. 3:10, Eccl. 10:10: The leadership skills of the pastor must be sharpened and developed through training, learning, growing and changing. If the pastor stop growing, changing in his personal life, thereby improving his leadership skills, the church cannot rise higher than its present level.
- Understand the nature of stagnation
There must be proper research and study into the history of the church. There must be a grasp of the facts that led to the stagnation and decline. Don’t take the fence down until you know the reason it was put up in the first place.
- Unity of purpose among pastors and leaders
The church cannot move away from stagnation if there is no unity among pastors and leaders, where there is self justification, envy, jealousy, politics, apportioning of blame, critical and ,judgmental spiral among pastors and leaders: God’s Spirit will not be able to work.
- Prayer Supporters
Nothing will really happen without powerful prayer support. We need to realise that the devil is happy when the church is cold, lukewarm and stagnant. He will therefore try to remove our focus from prayer.
- Growth Goals
When the goal-past is down, the game is over. When there is nothing to pursue there will be nothing to possess. There must be clearly spelt out goals for numerical, material and financial growth. Goals for every aspect of growth must be clearly set, communicated, pursued and monitored.
- Powerful Pulpit
The kind of preaching coming from the pulpit will go a long way in determining whether the church will grow or not Preach powerfully, positively, persuasively, practically and in penetrating and relevant way Motivate, encourage, inspire, challenge and fire them up to grow, go and give. Preach to meet needs.
- Equip the workers
There must be seminars, training and equipping of the church workers. They must be challenged to rise up, support their pastors, give their time, talent and treasure to the Lord through his local church.
- Excellence oriented
Begin to pursue excellence in every area of church. The building, public address systems, interior, chairs and general outlook of the church must change.
- Growth - friendly policies
Overcoming stagnation in the church: requires that the church leadership must be willing to change those policies that hinders and retards growth to the ones that are growth-friendly, We must be pragmatic enough to c those man-made, old and archaic ways of doing things so that good growth can occur.