Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Church Revitalization and Student Ministry

Today I begin my series examining the idea of church revitalization through the work of the student ministry of the church. If you are new to the blog, scroll down two more blogs and look for the coming soon article. In my Coming Soon article, I give a cursory introduction to this series. I do not profess to know everything about church growth and revitalization, nor do I claim to know everything about student ministry. In part, I write this blog, because it is the struggles and topics that I encounter on a regular basis. The congregation I serve as student minister is two-thirds senior adults. There is a small contingency of median and young adults with even fewer students and children. However, it is the pastor's desire and mine that the church transition and make the turn to a healthier church.

For the basis of my blog, I will be examining Thom Rainer's article from Christian Post 9 Questions You Should Ask Before Leading a Church Revitalization. I will use each of the nine questions as a framework for the series. I reorganized the questions based upon what I consider priority.

The first question that Rainer broached was that of prayer: "Will I pray daily for my church and my leadership?" This seems a rather silly question for a minister of the gospel to ask, but I find it fitting. Many ministers find themselves highly trained and educated. Many of us ministers are graduate students holding at least a Master's Degree, and we find ourselves to have the answers. Many of us have read countless John Maxwell books on leadership or John MacArthur books on pastoral care, and feel that we are highly qualified for the task that lay ahead of us.

I believe that this question is so fitting, because prayer is by nature a humbling experience. Prayer requires that we admit our incompetence and inability to accomplish church revitalization. The chief prayer of the person attempting church revitalization is to ask God to raise the dead. Real spiritual revitalization requires that the Holy Spirit descend on the local body and breath new life into her. This is something that ministers find ourselves wholly incompetent. The only option we have is consistent prayer, asking God to do the work.

Where I am different, is that I am not a senior pastor of a congregation. Our congregation is not built upon the new model of a team of equal ministers either. I am a subordinate to the pastor, and I am to help achieve his goals and aspirations for the church. Where I believe that many student ministers fail is that they do not consider that their responsibility is to the whole church. In their book Leading from the Second Chair, Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson discuss the "deep and wide paradox" for second chair leaders. As second chairs we must focus intently upon our specific area of responsibility. As a student minister, I am chiefly responsible for the student ministry of my church. This represents the deep perspective of ministry. Nonetheless, a good second chair leader must also comprehend the wide perspective, meaning that we must understand that what we do or do not do affects the whole of the body. I must commit myself to prayer for the students, specifically by name, because some of them will be on the Stewardship Committee, Deacons, and Sunday School Teachers one day. Since they are one day going to be the leaders of my church and other churches, this means that I must keep their discipleship in view of such leadership. Furthermore, I also desire to develop leaders for our community, state, and nation. I must keep this perspective in view of their discipleship as well.

Student ministers, we must grasp that church revitalization will not when a youth group experiences revival. For it to be "church" revitalization the entire local body must experience revival. So, we must pray for the whole congregation. We must pray that our students will encourage the others in the church towards revival. We must pray that the godly men and women of our church choose to actively engage the students and aid in their discipleship process. We must pray for our senior pastor, because he is the anointed leader of the church, and he is completely devoid of power to revitalize the church. We pray for our co-ministers at the church, because if we do not experience revival, then no one will. Finally, we pray the Holy Spirit will make his dwelling place within our churches, staffs, youth groups, and so on that we may see the church rise from the dead.
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