A congregation's expectations of its ministry team and a minister's expectations of its congregation are central issues when a church is struggling. Is the minister doing enough? Is he carrying out his ministry correctly? Is there any unconfessed sin in his life or in the life of other staff members which might bring about this decline? Has his zeal for ministry and his devotion to God waned? These are all normal questions that a devoted church member will ponder.
But, the minister will also ponder about the flock that he is tasked with guarding. Are they devoted more to the things of the world than the things of the Kingdom of God? Do they share their faith in the marketplace? Do they really believe in the mission and value of the local church?
While all the questions are good to use to evaluate oneself and evaluate a church, they can simultaneously become harmful and even damaging if done without a spirit of encouragement. The process of evaluating one another must be done with the clear goal of building each other up in the faith. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22) Also, evaluation and analysis must have an ending point. Questioning and questioning can quickly become exhausting. Analysis paralysis is a real thing! You cannot move forward and improve if you're still wallowing in your past, analyzing your mistakes to death. Be sensitive to one another as staff and as congregants. Trust the Lord to work in everyone who is seeking to build your church family and move forward.
First, in the midst of hard trials, a church family must remain stable. The answer to stability will always be to return to the basics of the church's purpose and faith values. If you as a pastor have found yourself in this situation, I suggest preaching a series on sharing the Gospel. Teach on the basic catechisms — "the chief end of man is to glorify God." Returning to the basics helps to stabilize the issues and calls everyone, staff and flock, to simply obey.
For our church, it is a return to witnessing and discipleship. We believe the goal of any church is to glorify God and that is best done by sharing the Gospel (evangelism) and bringing people who are far from God into a healthy relationship with Him (discipleship). Stability is easier when your foundation is strong. So, be sure to strengthen the foundation.
Second, relationships must be nurtured and everyone must choose to care for each other. Church leadership should be sensitive to the stress of core staff and ministers. Let your speech be seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6) and strive to be an encourager through the challenging times. Do not wait on others to step up and encourage. Take the initiative, read encouraging verses, and bring a positive spirit of hope and faith into your church family.
Third, be open with your church in your messages about the struggle. Acknowledge the struggle and be open to questions. Let the church ask questions through text, e-mails, or in person after the service. Invite them, welcome them, and thank them for caring enough to ask. Ask them to find the positive work God is doing in the church and focus on the positives.
Every church goes through trials and struggles. Satan longs to defeat and divide believers and to let them hurt one another and damage the testimony of Jesus in the community. At 6.14 Ministries, we want all good churches to function as light, hope, grace, and encouragement in their communities. If your church — or you as a minister — are going through a difficult time, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the official contact page on our website. You can also write me directly by visiting the contact tab on this blog. We will gladly help and encourage you as you follow your calling. There is no charge for your church or for you. Prayers and help are only an e-mail away!