Turnaround churches [or replanting] truly require a specific form a leadership — not unlike parents taking in a foster child who has been deeply hurt by their journey, now lacks trust and lives with suspicion. Rather than bearing one's own child, this new child has developed habits — some good, some bad yet the love of the parent, with perseverance and tenacity may bring the child back to wholeness.
George Barna "Turnaround Churches" lists the following attributes necessary for these kinds of leaders:
- Christianity is revolutionary in nature. The basis of this faith movement is to motivate people to willingly and joyfully accept and practice things that are unnatural in light of the prevailing influences and systems in our world,
- ... the end of the goal of a movement is to bring people closer to the very being of God by radically transforming the beliefs, values, and lifestyle of the individual,
- Such a movement, which is spiritual in essence, cannot be sustained without the blessing of God and the power of the Holy Spirit pg. 61
- A Team builder,
- Provides Vision,
- Grows Spiritually,
- An Encourager,
- Strategic Thinker,
- Takes Risks,
Ed Stetzer says that comeback churches were always led by strong leaders. Christian or biblical leadership can be defined as:
- A person,
- involved in a process
- of influencing and developing a group of people,
- in order to accomplish a purpose
- by means of supernatural power pg. 37 "Comeback Churches"
This has been a long journey for me. Almost 14 years ago, M and I arrived to take over a limping community with a greater past than they were currently living in presently. Four years ago, the Father spoke very clearly about replanting. One year ago we eventually moved to a new county and city yet only about 10 minutes apart by car but another world apart in decision making. Here is my list of leadership attributes I had to find in His grace. Unfortunately I have not led well at all times through this process, so these are not a record of my photo album of performance. Rather they are more like lessons learnt:
- A very clear word from the Father, endorsed by those "over us in the Lord" as well as those "alongside us",
- A deepened daily prayer life unlike any one has ever had before,
- A disciplined study of theology so that one never gets sidetracked by other ingredients nor place too much importance on perspectives, prophecies...
- Preach the gospel! The tendency is to make the pulpit a combat zone. Jesus is our advocate! The pulpit is sacred to the pure proclamation of the scripture, not for self defense,
- Is the hill that we will die on, one that is truly of eternal consequences?
- Have a team in place of those empowered by God to give sound counsel in all the facets that this change will bring,
- Be very careful in the extent to which we involve our spouses. They are our friends, lovers and partners. We must show huge wisdom in this partnership during this change,
- Be patient-it is through faith and patience we inherit the promises,
- Set up many "Community Conversations" to empower the congregation through openness, transparency and letting them be part of the journey,
- The pastoral team needs to be on their toes to discern the wiles of the enemy to sift some, show much love, grace and patience-but when folks have decided to leave, let them go,
- It will take raw guts! Please do not be easily swayed by the nuances of those who are unhappy or disgruntled. It is a time for true, strong, humble Jesus Lover leaders,
- Set yourself in for the long haul-this is not a part-time lover moment. The church must know you are there for the journey, that this change is essential for the future impact of the church,
- If there is a replant in a new city, enter the city with gratitude for those who have gone before, engage those who are there now, making sure that you are not using the city to prostitute your pleasures,
- Take some time to exegete the new context and culture,
- Read, read, read... it requires so much humility to learn from others,
- Define the vision, preach a large picture that folks want to be part of, letting everyone see that their story fits into the bigger story,
I would love to hear from those of you who have beens stretched to the hilt as you have had to lead turnaround churches....