Thom Rainer offers an “aha” moment about revitalizing churches.
Most of you have heard the dire information and statistics about congregations in North America. Indeed, I have been among the purveyors of the negative news. For sure, the overall picture is gloomy. There is no hiding from that reality.
Reasons for Hope
But I remain an obnoxious optimist about churches across our nation. And one of the primary reasons I do so is some ongoing research and observations about churches that have truly been revitalized.
My own research began several years ago and culminated in my book, Breakout Churches. It was a massive project, beginning with over 50,000 churches. My research, and that of many others, continues to this day.
While most of the research has focused on information endemic to structural and congregational issues, I have taken a laser approach to look at the leaders of these churches. And while I will release more comprehensive information later in a video consultation, I am incredibly excited to release some key information about leaders of these churches today.
The Seven Traits
The churches I have studied are churches that were once declining, but now are growing in a healthy fashion. The decline may have been dramatic, or it may have been almost imperceptible. In almost every case, however, the pastor embodied seven key characteristics.
In some of the churches, the pastors were new, and the presence of a new leader energized the congregations to move forward. In other churches, the pastors had been the leader during the decline, but now they were leading a church headed in a positive direction, a breakout church.
But here is a key to remember. The pastors intentionally adopted seven traits that were key to the churches’ turnaround. Let’s look at each of them briefly.
- These pastors faced reality. They looked at the current condition of the church. They likely did an informational historical survey of attendance trends. They refused to put their heads in the sand.
- They became leaders of hope. They looked at biblical truth regarding possibilities. They communicated that hope to their congregations. They truly believed all things are possible through God, including the revitalization of seemingly dying churches.