We wanted to share a story about a church in Seattle in which one of our interim pastors is working, in order to give you a better idea about the VitalChurch process of revitalization and the outcomes that can be achieved when a church engages with VitalChurch.
VitalChurch was approached in late 2014 by a church in Seattle who had recently lost their senior pastor due to resignation. Unfortunately for this particular church, the absence of a senior pastor had created a profound leadership vacuum, and an unhealthy competition for influence ensued. To compound the problem, the remaining church staff and board suffered from a lack of role clarity, and had not had the benefit of previous leadership development or training.
The church was in a state of uncertainty and confusion. Congregants had little confidence in the existing leadership, and the church was operating below budget. They had become inwardly focused to the point of no longer engaging in mission or community outreach. Cumbersome church procedures made it difficult and frustrating for those who wanted to be part of the solution.
The church’s local and district leadership sensed that there were problems that needed addressing, but weren’t sure exactly what needed attention, beyond the obvious issue of the church needing a new senior pastor.
When the VitalChurch team arrived on site at the Seattle church, the first thing we did was conduct a congregational survey and interview staff, board members, key lay leaders and volunteers. This diagnostic analysis led to 11 recommendations that would address the structural and heart issues that were afflicting this church.
After we gave our recommendations to the church, we moved into the second phase of our three-phase process for church revitalization by bringing in an intentional interim pastor. The VitalChurch interim pastor was able to “hit the ground running” as soon as he arrived in Seattle. He began to immediately address the church’s issues, having been given the advantage of knowing upfront what those issues were.
Since the interim pastor arrived in Seattle, some of the outcomes the church has seen as a result of VitalChurch’s involvement have included:
- Reconciliation among members of the congregation, as well as reconciliation with God
- Questions and conflicts within the church addressed and worked out in a more biblical manner
- Leaders that have been developed and better equipped for ministry, who have learned to expect, and even enjoy, feedback and mutual learning
- Better communication about how money is managed
- Lifestyle repentance
Because of these and other positive changes made by the church and its leadership, the church is now enjoying an increased confidence in the existing leadership, a renewed interest in service among church members, a desire for missional mobilization and community outreach, and an increase in giving.
If you had asked church members and leadership what they thought the church’s problem was at the end of 2014, most people probably would have said, “We don’t have a senior pastor.” However, the VitalChurch team was able to do so much more than just fill the gap while the church searched for a new, permanent pastor. The VitalChurch diagnostic team was able to get to the root of the church’s issues, and the interim pastor was able to implement changes that will serve the church well into the future.
Currently, the church is in the midst of calling a new senior pastor, and that new pastor will be arriving at a church that is healthy, focused, and best of all—seeking God’s voice above all other voices and praying that His will would be done in all areas.
True church revitalization is not a quick or painless process. It takes commitment and work by both church leadership and church members. The following acrostic of the word VITAL provides a convenient framework to make a few observations about some of the things churches need to pay attention to if they are going to revitalize their congregations and carry out effective ministry.
- Visionary Leadership
- Inspiring Worship
- Training in Discipleship
- Authentic Community
- Loving Outreach and Missional Living
If your church is in need of revitalization due the loss of leadership, a church conflict, or years of steady decline, VitalChurch can help! Contact us to discuss how our team of interim pastors and church diagnostic experts can help your church through a time of transition or crisis.