It is unfortunate the number of dying churches that conclude they need one of two kinds of men to lead them to revitalize their church. Churches first pursue the next young, rock-star preacher to be their pastor, banking on his charisma to breathe life back into the church. The problem with this approach is not just the limited amount of so-called “rock-star pastors” that exist, but that the Bible does not advocate that the men who lead the church must fit that description.
The other kind of pastor churches conclude they need is a fiery evangelist who will go out into the community and win souls for Jesus and that will help the church grow and consequently bring new fresh life. God uses both these kinds of men to build his kingdom, but this is not what is necessary for God to revitalize a struggling church.
God simply wants faithful shepherds.
God wants men who meet a certain qualification and godly character (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). God wants a humble, eager man who feels called to shepherd the flock of God on behalf of the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1–4). God wants pastors who realize their calling is to take heed to themselves and to the flock who Christ purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
God wants faithful shepherds who are not defined by their cleverness or charisma, but by a divine conviction to care for souls as if they will give an account to Jesus for them (Heb. 13:17).
Many approaches to revitalization challenge dying congregations (often set in their ways) to look outward for new life. I am not discouraging evangelist efforts, but if God has sheep already in a local church, we should begin there and not be so quick to simply try and replace them as the solution. Too often the decline of local churches has come as a result of the progression of neglectful, unfaithful shepherds. As a result, the spiritual life in the sheep of the church slowly dwindles throughout decades of neglect to a mere ember.
But there is spiritual life in every true follower of Jesus, regardless how beat up and discouraged they may be. Christ still lives in them and is working to complete the work he began (Phil 1:6). God needs faithful shepherds to care for the flock, and God, in part, breathes life into the church when his sheep are well cared for and fed the bread of life. Then, send those fed, equipped sheep out to get others.
Brian Croft is Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church. To find out more, please visit Practical Shepherding.