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by Certified Church Consultant, Dan Abbatiello

Once you input your destination into your GPS, it will calculate the best route to travel. Should you make a mistake or have to take a detour, your GPS will automatically recalculate what is needed to help you get back on the correct route toward your intended destination. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a church GPS? A reliable mechanism by which, should we get off course, would automatically sound an alert and then exclaim, “Recalculating.” We could then hear the new directions and see on our map the best way to get back on track.

Karl Vaters, in his book The Church Recovery Guide lists several key points where we can potentially get off course and need to recalculate in order to stay on your designated course. These ten points are worth consideration. Therefore, I decided to share them with you.

  1. Reestablish biblical essentials

The Word of God is our sure and absolute foundation. The Washington Post reported that churches that stand for biblical values are more likely to be thriving, while those that compromise biblical standards are more likely to be dying.

  1. Emphasize discipleship and leadership training

Pastors must see themselves as more than chaplains caring for the flock. We are ministry equippers, training kingdom believers.

  1. Reduce your overhead

Eliminate debt as soon as possible. Reduce paid staff to a minimum, engage more volunteers.

  1. Rethink your building

The old saying goes, “use it or lose it.” If you are only using your building on Sunday and/or Wednesday, look for other ways you can steward this valuable resource. Who else may benefit from the use of your building? Who else can be helped? A daycare, a business start-up, a new church plant? A food pantry, a café, a home-school co-op, an office for a Christian counselor?

  1. Work with strategic partners

In many places, small churches especially can band together to share resources. A multi-church youth group, churches may loan/share musicians, give music lessons, come together for special services such as Good Friday or Christmas Eve, partner with a Christian school, a para-church ministry.

  1. Engage your community

Churches must become known for what they do, not necessarily the location of their building.

  1. Refocus on Jesus over tradition, denomination or politics

In these days of division, let’s refocus on Jesus. He is the one in whom all things are held together. His Kingdom is the only kingdom that will stand.

  1. Restructure where needed

One thing COVID taught us is that there are many things the church can do without. It became easier for some to finally eliminate programmic “sacred cows” we may have been afraid to eliminate because of supposed fallout. We learned to focus on that which is most effective and valuable.

  1. Reestablish authentic disciple making

“Converts join a club. Disciples start a movement. Converts follow traditions. Disciples follow Jesus. Converts change their mind. Disciples change their lives and other people’s lives.” (Vater, 20)

  1. Figure out why your church should survive

Why does the church exist? What is her reason for being? Where is she going? At the beginning of this article I wrote, “once you input your destination into your GPS it will calculate the best route to travel.”  You probably noticed that I made an assumption. I assumed that one knows where they are going – that there is a destination that can be inputted into the GPS.

To a degree I feel the church at large has forgotten her destination. Therefore, I think it is time for the church to reexamine her purpose, her reason for being, her destination. This culture is no longer a friendly place for the church of Jesus Christ. The forces of darkness are arrayed against godliness and righteousness to a degree I have never seen before. It’s time for the church to once again rise up and stand for what is right. To once again speak the truth in love so that the reality of Christ may penetrate the hearts of men, women and children alike. That the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Once we have reestablished our destination, then we will hear the Holy Spirit GPS say “recalculating, make a U-turn and proceed to the designated route.”

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