The choir would be back together after taking the summer off. Every Sunday school teacher would contact each child in his or her class. I would be excited to have the church family back in their places. It was really like a homecoming. And, most times, attendance would be up and offerings would be above average. And, as a pastor — like a proud father — I liked having the whole bunch back home again.
But now, things are different. School begins “whenever,” and families seem more fragmented than they used to. Excitement takes on a different tone and, for many pastors, the first Sunday back is just like any other, which is to say that it is fraught with change.
As you know, from one week to the next, the landscape of your congregation can appear very different. Even though folks say change is good, and most of the time it is, no one ever said it’s easy. Change is constant, change is tough, and change can be managed. The word “manage” is the one that is tricky.
I was thinking about how I have dealt with major changes in my life and, of course, the first word that comes to mind is panic — “How will we get through this?” But when reality sets in, you have to put things into perspective and continue to live consistently as a person of faith. Surrender the situation to God, who knows the end from the beginning. Do all you can to minimize the negative consequences of the change. Find godly people and take seriously their counsel. Keep your head up. Stay as positive as you can. Remember, people are watching and depending on you. Be thankful in all situations (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and be expectant. God has an answer. Change is coming, that is for sure. Bu change usually means opportunity, so manage it well!
Pastor, between now and January 1, you will have the greatest opportunity to reach the greatest number of people you will have this year. But you must consider several things if you and your leadership are to succeed. Here they are:
Enthusiasm — You must be positive and expectant.
Game plan — What do you have in mind for your people? What new twist will you insert into your playbook?
Teamwork — Is everybody on board? Is your leadership team engaged?
Divine assistance — Sometimes a “hail Mary” pass is not just lucky, it is the hand of God enhancing hard work and preparation that pays off. God knows!
Persistence — Even if it doesn’t look that good on the scoreboard, you know when you have done your best.
“To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure. … You, 0 LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light” (Psalm 18:25-26, 28).
“He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42).