Any church revitalization should start with a church revitalization checklist. Preparation is key.
To alleviate our fear of flying, the various airlines assure us that traveling in one of their aircraft is safer than driving to the airport in your car. As a ministry consultant and trainer, I find that information comforting since I spend much time on airplanes flying to different places in North America and abroad.
One of the reasons for the safety record of airlines is that pilots and mechanics carefully work through a preflight checklist. In other words, they stop before they go. They stop before they strategize. They know what the essentials are before they move forward (if you plan to hire a church consultant, you should know what the church consulting essentials are as well.)
I have watched the captain walk around the plane, examining the engines and the flaps. On occasion I have even seen the captain kick the tires. When the flight personnel leave the cabin door open, you can watch them as they busily flip and check switches, examine various digital and modular instruments, and review their charts and flight plans. I have also observed mechanics running test programs to make sure that the plane’s electronics are working properly. To do otherwise could prove disastrous.
7 Items Pastors Should Include On Their Church Revitalization Checklist
1) Clarify the Leader of the Church Revitalization Process
Some leaders struggle with taking the time to work through their church revitalization checklist. They do not like to dabble in the details (much less a checklist). They prefer to “get on with it.” Thus, they skip what they believe to be the appetizer (church revitalization checklist and process) to get on with the entrée (a quick process or a revitalized church).
However, I would argue that it is vital for all leader-navigators to know what they are doing (definition) and why they are doing it (purpose) along with a number of other important issues that could make the difference between success and failure.
You may want to stop now and consider if you need outside input. If so, I recommend you read a resource we have available for free that details 10 tips for deciding on a church consultant before moving further.
2) Clarify What You Are Doing
Getting your church unstuck is no easy task. Many churches have gotten to the point where maintenance mode has become the new norm. But I doubt you or your church want to stay stuck in your ways for the rest of your lives. I bet you would enjoy getting your church unstuck.
In order to get your church unstuck, you must ask a very fundamental question: What are we going to do? The process might be clear in your head, but it likely isn’t clear in everyone else’s head. Take time to clarify the process for yourself and also clarify it for your team.
3) Ask Yourself: “Am I Prepared?”
Good navigators also prepare before launching their boats. They have to get ready! They use a pre-launch checklist (much like this one) to check their boats before launching to make sure that they are ship-shape and safe.
If you aren’t sure what should be on the checklist of your process, you may want to speak with one of the other members of your staff, such as your executive pastor, another elder or church leader, or even someone outside of your church. I often recommend that churches speak with someone outside of their church, because the outside consultant can speak more objectively about the situation than insiders.
Consultants also can see things in ways that insiders cannot. A colleague of mine often says that the longer you have been in a church, the less able you are to properly assess it effectively. Get fresh eyes to evaluate your context. At the very least, have someone do a Sunday Secret Shopper Visit to evaluate your facilities, your hospitality, and your overall ministry health.
4) Identify the Tools and Equipment Needed
When people get together, it takes work and planning. Don’t assume that you can throw a group of people together on a whim and see them all mysteriously start working together in collaboration. Take a few minutes to get clear about what tools and equipment are needed.
Here’s a few of the things you or your team might use in the process:
- Dry erase markers or dry erase board(s)
- Large frame for vision clarity exercises
- Small dots and Post-It notes
- Church constitution and By-laws
- Extension cords
- Bottled Water and other drinks (Also consider coffee)
There are many more potential things that you might find useful and that will likely vary by location and preferences. The point isn’t that you have the specific things that we mentioned in our list. The point is that you ensure you are prepared in such a way that physical tools and needed equipment don’t become a distraction, because you didn’t prepare well in advance.
5) Determine the Pre-Work
When pastors take a church through a church revitalization, pre-work should be done — not only by the pastor(s), but also any other leaders on the lead team or vision team. This church revitalization checklist is actually part of the pre-work that you should do as a pastor. If everyone shows up with little to no preparation, you may still be able to accomplish a few things, but you will lose considerable amounts of time. Try giving everyone a few things to read, an assessment or two, and any other activities or exercises that you believe would prepare them for the meeting coming up or the change process as a whole.
6) Clarify “Why” You Are Doing What You Are Doing
Start with the why. We all need to know why we are doing something. Knowing the why not only gets everyone on the same page for understanding the rationale, but it also increases motivation of everyone on the team. (It could be considered one of the most important parts of the church revitalization checklist!)
Don’t ask people to engage in a process without knowing why they should. Otherwise some on your team will clearly see the need for strategic reenvisioning, while others will not. Some will see a need for making your operations more strategic and others will not.
7) Prepare Yourself and Your Team For Change
Any church looking to make a significant impact into the future needs to address change directly. If we are not open to change personally, we will not experience change organizationally.
How have you prepared yourself for the changes that are coming? Have you altered your schedule to allow extra time? Have you assessed your personal spiritual, emotional, and physical health to make sure you can weather the changes that lie ahead?
Figure out what you specifically need to prepare yourself for change. Many of the pastors we have worked with have indicated a need for coaching in preparation for the change process. If that describes you, a member of our time will be glad to help.
What about your team? Have you prepared them for change? You likely have a few people on your team who quickly adapt to any change, others who will gradually come around, and others who will resist for quite some time. Make sure to keep that in mind as you select people to be on the team and as you lead them through the process. Get people thinking early about how they need to change and how the church they have been a part of will likely be changing in many ways in the weeks, months and years ahead.
How are you doing with the pre-launch checklist? Make sure to stop and address each of these areas as you look ahead to the leading your church through a reenvisioning process. Strategic growth doesn’t happen in one quick weekend; however, if you prepare well you will see your church’s growth rapidly accelerate later on when you begin meeting with your leaders and walking through the strategic planning process as a church.
Scott Ball is the Vice President and a Lead Guide with The Malphurs Group. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott).