Does your church say ‘if only’ or ask ‘what if?’

by Lonnie Reynolds, Contributing Writer


Monday, March 5, 2018

Walker Armstrong, Director of Missions with the Pilot Mountain Baptist Association explains in this video some of the barriers a church encounters along the path to revitalization.

When a pastor or church leader begins to sense the need for revitalization, you may hear them talk about reasons why their church isn’t flourishing that begin with the statement, “if only....”

Some examples might include:

“If only our circumstances hadn’t changed so much.”

“If only the mills, factories or other industries hadn’t moved out.”

“If only some of our best people hadn’t moved away for better jobs and opportunities.”

“If only the community around us hadn’t changed.”

While all of these statements may be true, the implication is, “If only things hadn’t changed so much, I think we’d be a growing church.” However, a church doesn’t have to accept things as they are and live out of an “if only” paradigm.

Good leadership can make a difference. There is a great deal of truth to the old adage, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” When I use the word “leadership,” I’m not only referring to pastoral leadership, but also to elected and volunteer leaders within a local church body. Simply put leadership matters.

Instead of operating out of an “if only” perspective, what if pastors and leaders operated out of a “what if” mindset by God’s grace and help? Instead of blaming circumstances, changing demographics, the economy or other factors, what if leaders asked “What if?” Instead of thinking about their current reality, what if leaders envisioned a dream of what is possible in their church by the grace of God and His leading?

Jesus does not want to see the church, His bride, fail to be what He intended her to be. It is His church, and He said, “The gates of hell would not prevail against her” (Matthew. 16:18).  

So rather than saying “if only,” churches and church leaders need to ask, “what if?”

What if God gives us a fresh perspective? What if we begin to see things the way Jesus sees them? What if we begin to see ourselves the way Jesus sees us?  What if we begin to see lost people the way Jesus sees them? What if, once again, we grasp the truth that we are Jesus’ hands, feet and lips in this world? What if we use our God-given gifts accordingly?

Following are brief videos of two different churches that asked “what if” and experienced revitalization.

Each one of these churches followed a unique pathway, but all three began with the “what if” question.

They asked, “What if God has something greater in store for us than what we are presently experiencing? What if we really begin to live out the Great Commandment and the Great Commission? What if we make disciples who make disciples?”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lonnie Reynolds serves as a contract worker with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Church Health and Revitalization Team.