This is part two of this article. Please click here to read part one.
Rejuvenate the Flock
Once you have asked God to work in you and renew your own passion, there are several ways you can structure your church with a bias towards growth. First, put the fun back into church. Fellowship activities help produce excitement (e.g. potlucks, special days, church picnics, attending a ball game as a church, fellowship after an evening service). Stagnant growth produces a stagnant spirit. By making church fun again, you produce an excitement that your members will want to share with others. That excitement produces growth.
To help build on this excitement, add more Sunday school classes. Isaiah 54:2 says, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.” The Sunday school is your greatest tool for growth. In order to grow again you must add new Sunday school classes.
Begin by dividing and multiplying. Two classes that run 30 in each class may have little or no potential for growth. You have already reached the limits of the Sunday school teacher or the physical limits of the classroom—you just can’t fit any more people. By dividing those classes, you create a huge potential for growth. Those 60 people divided into 10 classes suddenly see a great need to bring more people into their class. If each class will bring just 4 more people, that is 40 new people in the church learning the Word of God and growing in Christ!
Adding new classes will mean training new teachers. Although it will mean more work to oversee several new classes with new teachers, there are a few things that can help. Hold a weekly teachers meeting. This is a time to hear any needs from the teachers and conduct ongoing training. Providing planned Sunday school curriculum is a huge help to your teachers, especially those that may be newer. It will help you, as the pastor, to ensure that the congregation is getting a wide range of solid Bible teaching, and your new teachers will appreciate not having to decide what to teach each week so they can focus their energy on studying the Word of God.
Don’t allow a lack of space to keep you from adding new classes. Your church can’t post a “no vacancy” sign. You may need to be creative with your class schedule. Create a second Sunday school hour after the Sunday morning service or before the evening service. It could be time to expand your facilities. Search for an option that doesn’t include “we don’t have room to grow.”
Finally, as a note of caution, you may not want to reorganize your Sunday School yourself. If you foresee fierce resistance to restructuring, bring in a guest pastor who has brought his church through a similar change. He can share the great need he had in his own church, prepare the people for potential obstacles, and tell of the great blessings his church has received since the transition. Suddenly, the new Sunday school classes aren’t just “your idea,” they are the obvious solution to a problem.
Reinstate Your Personal Involvement
We know what is expected of a pastor, but over time we can let stagnation discourage us from personal involvement with God’s people.
King David had a similar problem to overcome. David started out well as king. The Bible says he “…executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (2 Samuel 8:15). But what David knew to do, he soon neglected. This left an opening for David’s son, Absalom, when he began to rebel. Absalom took over the personal duties that David neglected. “And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:6). After Absalom’s rebellion, David reinstated his personal involvement and the people followed him eagerly. “And he bowed the heart of all the men of Judah, even as the heart of one man; so that they sent this word unto the king, Return thou, and all thy servants” (2 Samuel 19:14).
Here are several ways to reinstate your personal involvement:
• Invite three couples over to eat at your home every week you possibly can. (People will stay in a church if they can make friends—you be that friend!)
• Shake hands with everyone.
• Speak to everyone.
• Write many notes each week.
• Smile all of the time.
• Lift their burdens each week.
Realize That God Will Bless
“Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.” Nehemiah 2:20
God still blesses faith-filled work. It is a mistake to believe that stagnation means that God has decided to stop blessing. He still blesses His Word and His work.