17. nycupicBy Dr. Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southe

The churches I have studied are churches that were once declining, but now are growing in a healthy fashion. The decline may have been dramatic, or it may have been almost imperceptible. In almost every case, however, the pastors intentionally adopted seven traits that were key to the churches’ turnaround.

  1. These pastors faced reality.They looked at the current condition of the church. They likely did an informational historical survey of attendance trends. They refused to put their heads in the sand.
  2. They became leaders of hope.They looked at biblical truth regarding possibilities. They communicated that hope to their congregations. They truly believed all things are possible through God, including the revitalization of seemingly dying churches.
  3. They adopted a long-term perspective.They likely did not make some type of public declaration of their intent, but began leading as if they were going to be at their current church for around 10 years. Most of them admitted they did not want to close the door if they sensed God’s leadership elsewhere, but they led as if they were going to be around for a while. In other words, they were not seeking to move.
  4. They led incrementally.Because they had a long-term perspective, they were willing to lead in a way that the congregation could manage. It was not at the speed the pastors desired, but it was healthy for the churches.
  5. They learned how to deal with critics and setbacks.Most of these pastors determined they would deal with challenging issues in a positive way. Many of them had their own inner processes developed to deal with critics.
  6. The pastors developed their own intentional outward focus.Many of them admitted they had become inwardly focused, so they started intentionally getting out in their communities. A number of them became highly intentional about sharing their faith on a regular basis.
  7. They led their churches to an outward focus.These pastors began to lead their churches beyond their own walls. More energy and time were devoted to connecting with their communities and beyond. The congregations became Great Commission churches in action, not just in theory.

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