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Three Obstacles That Hinder Church Revitalization

As president of the Society for Church Consulting, I drive our vision to advance and revitalize churches by training leaders and certifying consultants.

Some church leaders don’t pursue certification but simply want to help their churches get better. Other pastors seek help in revitalizing their churches. Regardless of the current health of your church, it’s good to examine church revitalization. Here are three obstacles that hinder health and are important to remember when pursuing church revitalization.

  1. People can’t improve what they don’t know.

The key issue here is lack of knowledge. Author and psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud said, “facts are our friends.” I believe knowledge is good, but wisdom is even better. Wisdom is the thoughtful application of knowledge. We need both knowledge and wisdom, but it starts with knowledge.

So, acquire more knowledge. Enroll in a class. Read books or blogs. Listen to good podcasts. These days an abundance of knowledge is at your fingertips via the web, so take advantage of it.

And learn from your mistakes. Hebrews 12:11 says that if we learn from our painful trails and experiences, later after some reflection we’ll experience a harvest of righteousness and peace.

So, learn as much as you can because you can’t improve what you don’t know.

 

  1. People can’t examine what they don’t see.

The key issue here are blind spots. Often, people don’t see what’s happening around them. Sometimes we have blind spots because we’re too far away. Church consultants need to visit the churches they’re working with. They need to have regular, intentional contact and communication with the church’s leadership.

It’s been said, “You can impress people from a distance, but you can only impact people close up.” So, stay close to the action because sometimes we have blind spots because we’re too far away.

Other times we have blind spots because we’re too close. The often-quoted line “You can’t see the forest because of the trees” is true! Preachers can’t evaluate their own technique and effectiveness. Worship leaders can’t evaluate themselves from the platform. They’re too close to the action.

Sociologists tell us we don’t see 40% of ourselves. Look around yourself. You only see the 60% that’s in front of you and to the sides. You can’t see 40% of what’s going on around you. But guess what? Other people can. They can see all around us.

Self-awareness is key in any area of life, and I believe we only see 60% of the realities around us. Church leaders can get so close to the action, they don’t see 40% of what’s actually going on. That’s why the outside perspective from a church consultant is helpful because people can’t examine what they don’t see.

 

  1. People can’t change what they ignore.

The key issue here is fear. Pastors can get so familiar with the issues in their churches they ignore them because they’re afraid.

Sometimes the ignoring is unintentional. They just got used to it. It’s like the scene from the movie Rainman, starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.

Charlie Babbit: “Did you fart, Ray?

Raymond: “Ya.”

Charlie: “How can you stand that?”

Raymond: “I don’t mind it.”

Sometimes we get used to bad things and they don’t bother us anymore!

Other times, ignoring the situation is intentional. You’re so frustrated or hurt by the situation, it’s just easier to ignore it. The bottom line is, you’re afraid!!

But take courage! Paul says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Tim. 1:7. Lean into the things you’re afraid of. Face the issues you’ve been ignoring. Get help to examine the things you can’t see.

 

To conclude, I’m reminded of Eric Hoffer’s quote: “In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” So, take courage and rely on the Holy Spirit’s’ leading as you examine your blind spots and gain extra knowledge in your church revitalize efforts. And remember, people can’t improve what they don’t know. People can’t examine what they don’t see. And people can’t change what they ignore.