I have witnessed a church community that seemed to be operating fine, but then took an unexpected turn. I have also seen that same community be built back up while still retaining a majority of church members.
Most of the time, rebuilding a church community is difficult due to stubbornness, tense moments, and people leaving.
It’s always a sad time when a church is struggling in the area of community, but it is possible to rebuild what was broken.
Restoring Broken Communities
The first step to repairing a broken community is for the leaders of the church to meet with each other.
The Executive Pastor should be the chief of the discussion as things may become unruly.
The problem should be identified during this meeting. Set goals for what you hope to accomplish.
After goals are met, establish a plan to take before the church community.
The second step is for the Pastor to acknowledge the problem in front of the church.
Things usually remain unspoken until someone bravely steps up to bring the problem into the light.
This should be the responsibility of church leaders. During this time, the Pastor should explain the plan to the church.
The third step is for church leadership to have a question and answer session where members can have questions answered.
If the church members feel like their voices are being heard, that will help significantly.
Have one of the leaders take notes during the session that will be used later on.
The pastor should make sure that things do not become too loud or people express their passion in a hostile way.
The goal here is to hopefully get everyone on the same page.
The fourth step is to hold another leadership meeting to discuss notes from the session.
This will hopefully get the church going in some direction.
This will be where leaders plan sermon series to have that will revitalize the church community and keep people from leaving.
This will also be where leaders decide who or what needs to go to make room for growth.
This will be difficult as some leadership may need to go or some programs may need to go.
The fifth step is to hold another meeting announcing the changes.
Leadership should hold another session that will explain what the changes will be to promote a healthier community.
The Pastor should let the people know that this was done with their best interest in mind.
Track Your Growth Monthly
After all of those steps are completed, it is up to the leadership to make the church members feel cared for and to remind them of why they meet in the first place.
One way to track growth is to insert paper surveys in the bulletins where people can communicate their thoughts about the changes that have been made.
The surveys should be read weekly and then compared one time each month.
After reviewing the surveys, church leaders should meet to discuss what has been working, what they need to do more, and what isn’t working at all.
Another way to track growth is to establish Bible Study Groups. Christ the King in Cincinnati, Ohio offers these each semester, and I believe it keeps the community strong.
Train Bible Study Group leaders to host and provide the content for the Bible study.
These leaders should report back to the leadership of the church with information regarding the topics discussed during group time and how well each group member is getting along with the others.
Setting up small groups is a wonderful way for people to get over their anger and to get to know people for who they are.
Preach Content about Community in the Body of Christ
The best thing to do for your church on Sunday morning (or whenever you meet) is to feed them well.
Don’t do a sermon series on ontology when your community is struggling! Make the theme of your sermon community.
Relate the current situation of your church to what the Bible instructs on church community.
These sermons will hopefully open your congregation’s eye to its own unhealthiness and will encourage members to build each other up.
Victories are Not in Number, but in Spiritual Growth
If you end up losing a lot of church members as a result of the problem, do not be discouraged!
Everyone has a choice to make when experiencing trouble in church community: They can either commit to it until the end or move on.
The most important thing is not keeping people, but facilitating spiritual growth no matter the size of the congregation.
Trust in the Lord for giving you and your church what it needs to exist. At the same time, focus on building up the people who are committed to staying.
Don’t worry about the people who chose to leave. That will just create a new problem.
Remember this: Jesus is victorious when the Gospel is preached and He is loved by those who respond to Him.
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