3 ways to revitalize the revitalizer
It is not just the sheep that need biblical community and accountability.
Since I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, the beaches of Florida were always within a day’s drive. I love the gulf coast so much, that even as a college pastor I took our students on summer trips to Destin. Once on the beach, I always made sure that I knew where my condo was and would use that as my directional marker. On one occasion, I remember being out in the ocean for around 30 minutes simply having a good time and soaking up the sun with everyone. However, when I went to look up and head back to the beach, I did not see my directional marker. What happened? I had been drifting and did not even know it.
Biblical community, in essence, is biblical accountability. As revitalization leaders and pastors, when we hear the word “community,” we tend to think in terms of small groups, fellowship gatherings, and basically shepherding the sheep. However, we need to be asking the question, “Who is shepherding the shepherd?” Simply put, it is not just the sheep that need biblical community and accountability, but also the shepherd.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was the day I helped my family bury one of my heroes, best friend, and the man who helped raise me: my grandfather. I will never forget the words that someone shared about him back on that August day of 2006 in Memphis, Tennessee. His pastor shared that he was a marathon runner, not simply a sprinter. If you knew my grandfather, you would have known that he was not a marathon runner physically, but he was indeed spiritually. He finished well and the day that he went home to be with his Lord, he was still faithful to his Savior, wife, family and local church. Those words were downloaded into my memory bank that day and have crossed my mind on a constant basis ever since.
Let’s face it; revitalizing a local church is indeed a marathon and not a sprint. I believe in order for us to finish the race well, we need to set up some basic boundaries and mile-markers along the way. Here are a few practical suggestions to help us to keep from drifting and staying revitalized as we lead the revitalization effort:
1. Get Alone with God
Proverbs 1:5 teaches us to, “Let the wise listen to these proverbs and become even wiser. Let those with understanding receive guidance.” Growing churches have growing leaders. Before there can be activity for God, there must first be intimacy with God. Communion with the Lord on a daily basis is an essential.
2. Guard Your Heart
Proverbs 4:23 teaches us to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Yes, I am theologically aware that as a born-again believer we are called saints. This does not mean however that we are no longer sinners. The struggle is real. As John Owen once said, “be killing sin or sin will be killing you.
3. Gather a Team
Proverbs 11:14 teaches us that, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.” Pray and select a group of men that will love you enough and give them the freedom to hold you accountable and speak into your life. This is where it is so critical to have biblical community in the life of a church revitalization or any church for that matter. The leader must crave community. You cannot lead where you have not been. If we expect those who follow our leadership to be in community, then we must lead by example.
In his book, Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp clearly portrays this truth by simply stating that he finally came to the understanding that he needed others in his life. He further claims that growing up, he had no idea that his walk with God was indeed a community project. Let us remember the words of our Lord in Hebrews 3:13, “You must warn each other every day, while it is still today, so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.” We need community. We need accountability. We need one another. We also need revitalization.