Positive church members see their church as the “hope engine” for their community. |by Gary Moritz

The character traits of a positive church member dictate a strong cultural fortitude for the entire church. Have you had to deal with negative church members during this time of replanting and revitalization? It may not make you feel any better, but we all have.

If you’re like me, you have probably also had the pleasure of leading some incredible people who are still with you and are involved in helping to build a great church.

However, it’s the sabotaging church members that keep us up at night. They can cause us to lose focus and lead us to believe that the minority voice is the majority voice.

In a “replant” or revitalization, some people simply don’t want the church to find renewal. They pose an actual threat to the Great Commission and are anti-Christ in nature. Sounds harsh. Yet think of how these members use their influence to thwart positive change. They slow down the whole process.

However, you can build a culture of positive change with those members who are ready to dig in and move the church forward. These positive church members can become your wall of defense against any attempts at sabotaging the church’s mission and vision.

Your job as a leader and a “church revitalizer” is to protect the culture, vision, mission, and values of the church you are leading. These give you the ability to do what God has called you to do.

Let’s face facts. Sabotaging church members are not for you but against you. They likely do not respect you as the pastor, and it’s difficult to lead someone who doesn’t respect you. But…you can have church members and attenders who are positive contributors to the process of revitalization.

Here are four key characteristics of positive church members and attenders in a rebuilding and revitalization.

  1. Positive church members understand the mission of the church.

In the Western Church, most members do not understand why they attend church and what their part is in moving the mission and vision forward. The pastor must keep the mission and vision front and center and share how church members can become a part of it.

The “why” behind what the church drives the behavior of the church. When a person becomes a member, it is important for them to understand why it exists and how they can immediately become a part of it as they grow closer to Christ.

If members do not know the mission, they will stray off course. Through preaching, church members can learn to filter every idea and opportunity through the church’s mission statement.

Sabotaging begins when a church member abandons the mission of the church. If a softball player starts to wear football gear to practice, everyone will notice that she is dressed for the wrong sport and will not contribute effectively to the team. The same goes for the behavior of church members. If church members decide to start working against the mission and vision, people will notice.

Keep the biblical mission and vision of church in front of people’s minds so that they can continually work towards helping you accomplish it.

  1. Positive Church members are thinking of a better way to do ministry.

Positive church members are thinking of a better way to work toward vitality in the church. They don’t just settle and coast. Rather, they are continually looking for better ways to reach people.

It’s your job as the pastor to empower people to make things better. This is done by developing people into better leaders, entrusting them with the mission, then deploying them to recruit others to join them on the journey.

It’s the people in the church who must become the vision carriers. There will always be consumers in the church, those that attend but do not contribute. As pastors, we want to focus on and pour into the people that have a passion to change the world for Christ.

It is difficult to teach motivation and passion. People usually have it or they don’t. Passion and the call of God are the rocket fuel for the Gospel. When passion in a church member dies, that’s the sign that they are disengaging. Monitor the passion of the members. A lack of motivation and passion can lead to sabotage. Challenge people to think of better ways to do ministry.

  1. Positive church members work hard.

Positive church members are teachable. They possess a love of learning and are hungry for the “What's next?” and the “Who's next?” and the “Where's next?”

These are people who work hard, play hard, and rest knowing they did what they could to help make a kingdom difference. They bring new ideas and a plan for integration and movement. All they need is a blessing from the pastor.

The energy and enthusiasm such people bring to the church are contagious. Negative church members can sabotage a church revitalization by digging in against change, complaining, and trying to distract others from working hard. They can be a negative influence on the church, other people, and, especially, on you.

It is important to teach people not to listen to the negative voices around them. Challenge them only to listen to God’s voice and to work hard to see the mission and vision accomplished. People who are passionate and work hard just need a pastor to give them something to do in accomplishing the mission.

  1. Positive church members say “we” over “me.”

Positive church members continually say “we” and not “me.” Having the opportunity to change lives and be part of a healthy, growing church is a privilege.

Positive church members see their church as the “hope engine” for their community. They love Jesus and their church. They think of their church as an eternal family. For them, the weekend is another opportunity to impact and change another life.

A positive church member lives for others and to make the church great. The idea of “team” is important to them. They take their role seriously. They rarely speak negatively of people, their church, or their leadership. They understand empowerment over entitlement.

This framework of thinking is essential for the kingdom because unless the people in the church are working together with a strong Gospel focus, that church cannot accomplish all that God desires for it.

We know that Jesus Christ is the hope of the world, and He wants to change the lives of people. Challenge people to continually focus on others and not be consumed with themselves.

If you are fostering and encouraging a positive culture within your people, it will be hard for negative voices to sabotage the culture of the church. Positive church members can be the majority voice.  A church focused on humility, prayer, and repentance will create a positive church environment, that is almost impossible for a negative church member to sabotage.

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