There is nothing as dead as a dead Pentecostal church. Several things describe a “dead” church.
Long dry baptistery.
Every attendee looks and acts as if they have been saved, sanctified & petrified for at least thirty years!
No operation of the gifts of the spirit & nobody even misses it!
No divine interruptions!
Praise is by rote.
Nobody under the age of 20 has experienced “worship” – prostration at the presence of God.
There are no relatively new people in the process of development toward being a committed disciple of Christ.
What I’ve described is a mess. This sort of situation is hard to pastor. If you lead a church described here it does not have to stay the way it is – but change will begin with you. Change will not come overnight – find the spiritual weapons God wants you to use and keep using them.
Focus your teaching and preaching on principles like prayer, fasting and evangelism. Begin a regular prayer meeting. At the prayer meeting, use resources like the late Judy Doughty’s book Spiritual Warfare Praying to lead people to pray.
Have one fast day per week for the entire church. On a quarterly basis call a three day fast. Periodically call “Media and Technology Fasts” – no tv, newspaper, web news, Facebook, video games, twitter, etc. No internet except for work.
Incorporate a Daniel Fast on an annual basis. It can be 7, 21 or 30 days. As you work to turn this thing around, make prayer and fasting the measure of progress. Who would disagree with the pastor about the need for prayer.
Establish a system that allows those non-negotiable principles to be sustained. Our church standard at Calvary United Pentecostal Church in Springfield, Missouri requires anyone involved in a service to be in the prayer room before church. It is non-negotiable. “No pray, no play!”
Lead by example – Be at every prayer meeting! Don’t be in your office before church while others pray. Example is the greatest teacher.
Speak your expectation for faith to work & the spiritual to happen.
Don’t get frustrated when this is not instantaneous.
Instead of testimonies sometime have someone speak “a word of faith.” This is a word about what they anticipate God doing.
Constantly make room for the Holy Ghost to work. Spiritual things happen when we expect such and make room for it.
We can get so program oriented (regular readers know I believe in preparing and organizing a service) that the Holy Ghost has to wrestle its way in.
Connect to people. A button on the blender says, “On,” but the blender won’t work if it is not plugged in. Turning around a dead church is sure easier if you can get people flowing with you. Get them “turned on” to revival.
Talk with them about the church, ask about their vision for the church, “What would you like to see our church become? How do you think we can get to what you envision.”
People will surprise you. When they get to talk about the vision it becomes a shared vision.
Connection times are when you have a meal with them, laugh with them, ask questions about their life, buy the sweatshirt for whatever sports team the locals support. Comfortable people; people who have been allowed to participate in preparing for the future are more easily led .
Aim almost every service (mid-week, weekend or small group) for the altar. We can mistakenly measure church by preaching, singing, people having been blessed. Do we have these but needy people leave still needing?
People are “altered at the altar.” My goal is always found at the altar.
If we have “good” church but no effective altar time was it really good? Good altar time is not rushed.
When good things happen, stay near the altar and allow there to be time for an after-glow. The after-glow is a season of deep worship. In such settings God does things you can never imagine accomplishing.
Consistent theme – Get on point, stay on point, repeat the point, look for unique ways to communicate the point. Don’t wander from the point.
As things happen that reinforce what you are trying to accomplish use those successes (though they may be small) to celebrate. Let a saint talk about the small victories as well.
“What gets honored gets repeated!”
People MUST hear things repeatedly for it to stick. Quotes from the late J.T. Pugh, G.A. Mangun and N.A. Urshan are things those people said many times Whatever your goal is bring the church to a place where they begin to quote you – even while you are saying it – yet again!
Many churches need a revival –some equate revival with noise and fury; and such does happen (Acts 2). Acts 1 is where the revival starts. Revival begins in quiet things that few will notice.
Two business matters:
1. My book “Healthy Church – Start Here” discusses 18 things that cause a church to get stuck in a death spiral. More important than identifying these 18 matters, are the solutions provided to each issue. Buy it here.
2. My last book “Revival in a Plain Brown Wrapper” gives more ideas about how you can experience constant, but not flashy revival in your city. This has been a best seller! Click here to make it yours.
As a pastor, perhaps you are struggling with a turnaround– our team is exploring doing some web-based training sessions with pastors/local church leaders. If you’d be interested contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, I’m interested in the testimony of those who have participated in a “turn around” church experience. How did it unfold? What were the priorities that brought change? What things were tried that were ineffective? By the way – you can’t bring life to a dead church with a program – there has to be a move of the Holy Ghost!