By Lynn Hardaway
A sailing ship is “dead in the water” when there are no winds in its sails to make it come alive. Without some kind of intervening action, it literally is “not going anywhere.” Churches who find themselves in a lull place, where less people are attending, and the once lively spirit of the congregation seems to be on hiatus, need to make the necessary corrections to get back on their God-given mission.
It begins with a desire to move forward, which is followed by pursuing God diligently for His vision of what comes next, experimenting with ideas and gaining insights to what is effective. The natural, or in the church’s case supernatural, results of implementing what you have learned, will be more people coming and joining/staying in the church. Each idea may only draw one or two people in, but without fresh ideas, very few will be that interested in joining the church. In the business world, new ideas or products produce the confirmations of profit; in the church world, the outcome is more people following Jesus.
The effect these new people have on the heart and spirit of a congregation is called “synergy.” Enthusiasm returns, the purpose seems more attainable, and God’s people legitimately feel like they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. The “wind” fills the sails and the church comes alive. Synergy is absolutely the best place a congregation can experience!
The danger with this kind of synergistic growth is the overconfident feeling among congregants that some great discovery has been made which will carry the church into a permanent growth mode, as if a current idea that works will keep working forever, which is a self-delusion. The pastor and leaders must take the successful synergy moment to move back to the desire and vision side of the cycle to ask God for the next idea/vision to reach more people.
If you decide to just “ride the wave” of synergy as if it will last, you will find yourself “dead in the water” again very soon.