Shift: A Change of Direction
What can a pastor do to get his church moving in the right direction?
Stuck in a Rut
by Howard Gwartney
Did you ever get stuck in the snow or the mud in your vehicle? It’s never a fun thing and not an easy thing to get “un-stuck.”
Pastor, did you ever feel like you were “stuck” in your ministry? (Notice I didn’t say “stuck in the ministry.” If you feel that way, you probably shouldn’t be in the ministry in the first place.) What I mean is have you ever felt that your ministry has stalled or plateaued?
Well, all kinds of things can happen to make church planters feel that way. It could be low attendance, dwindling offerings, a missionary account in the red, or even the lack of spiritual development in your fledgling congregation.
Can you do anything to get “un-stuck,” to gain some momentum? How can a pastor get things moving again—positively and in the right direction—for the kingdom?
I’ve been in that situation more times than I care to admit. In fact, we had a recent occurrence that took the wind out of our sails as a church, and I found myself in this dilemma. I immediately thought of the words of Jesus to the church at Ephesus. Jesus told them that the way to get their “first love” back was to:
Repeat (the “first works,” Revelation 2:5)
We started Christ’s Church Free Will Baptist by serving the community where we wanted to plant the church. I became a chaplain for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and tried to serve both deputies and the public on the darkest days of their lives.
Many times I have prayed with families who lost their homes due to fire. Forty times in the past four years I have prayed with families who lost a loved one to suicide. I personally have distributed hundreds of bottles of water and walked home to home, giving out batteries for smoke detectors as a way to show Christ’s love to people in our community.
As I considered our situation, however, I realized that we had not served the community as a congregation since our launch. Though small groups had assisted in a water giveaway, I had failed to lead our congregation as a whole into this type of outreach. After repenting, I scheduled a service event for our whole church. While the project hasn’t even happened yet, just the preparations have generated excitement in our church, and things are moving again.
Doesn’t it feel great to get out of the rut and try something new for the kingdom? Why not give it a try! For some great ideas about how to share Christ’s love with others, check out www.servantevangelism.com or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Writer: Howard Gwartney is a Home Missions church planter to Pinal County, Arizona. Learn more about his church at www.christschurchfwb.org.