Speaking to a conference at New Orleans Baptist Seminary, LifeWay Research head Ed Stetzer said: Comeback churches exhibited three common faith factors: a renewed belief in Jesus Christ and the mission of the church; a renewed attitude of servanthood; and a more strategic prayer effort.
“You can’t love Jesus and hate His wife … you know the church is the bride of Christ,” Stetzer said. “The reality is they fell in love with the church again.”
Leaders of the revitalized churches stopped focusing on their own preferences and began focusing on servanthood. According to Stetzer, the successful leaders began exhibiting the attitude of Jesus found in Philippians 2:5-11. And they focused on seeking God’s direction through prayer.
“They prayed. They heard from the Lord. They got on mission,” Stetzer said. “There were a lot of structural changes, but we need to start with the spiritual things. Leaders lead people to spiritual changes.”
Comeback churches renewed their evangelistic efforts, and for many churches, this means learning to love the lost, Stetzer said.
The churches illustrated their love for the lost by actively witnessing. Stetzer said each successful church used a variety of evangelism methods. While some church members excelled at traditional door-to-door outreach, other members developed relationships with the lost as an avenue for witnessing. None of the comeback churches in the Stetzer survey used only one evangelism method, but each created an environment where both spontaneous and planned evangelism could take place.
“Most churches love their traditions more than they love the lost,” Stetzer said. “We lock ourselves into a self-affirming subculture.”
Removing barriers to the Gospel was another way the churches showed love for the lost, Stetzer said. These barriers included meaningless tradition and practices that repelled unchurched people. Stetzer suggested keeping the focus on the Gospel.
“We need to remove every stumbling block we can except the stumbling block of the cross,” he said. (Baptist Press, 10-18-07; Click here to read the full article.)