Navigating a rebuilding year at church


By Aaron Summers, pastor of Coulter Road Baptist Church in Amarillo

The head coach carrousel has finally stopped spinning. How did your team do? The ones I follow did not have much change in the coaching positions, but many others had much change to endure. The schools, students, fans and you will all be hearing a common theme when it comes to coaching.

It’s a rebuilding year.

Unfortunately, some schools say that each year. Others use it as a way to explain what happened or is happening. Still others simply use it as a ploy to seek forgiveness before anything bad happens!

After 23 years in ministry, I find churches are still struggling to win. It seems that many are in rebuilding decades attempting to reach the evasive younger generation. For 40 years we have been chasing the young families in our communities. Yet, when we do the data mining in our records, we find that we are still not getting them en masse.

But, we’re REBUILDING.

I get it. We want to give an account to those who are providing the financial base. We want to hold out hope to those young families that are coming.

When faced with transitional needs, its our attitude that will make the difference. The approach you take is a result of a bad, poor, doubtful or believing attitude you have. In scripture, I see four types of approaches we take concerning transition to the future.

  1. Saul Approach (1 Samuel 13)

    Not long after his inauguration, Saul found himself on the battlefield preparing…and waiting. It was the required practice to offer a worshipful sacrifice before engaging the enemy. The problem was the Samuel was late. For whatever reason he was tied up. Saul was an impatient man and decided that the logical approach was to just offer the sacrifice himself.

    Logic can overwhelm a discussion in churches today. There was a time when we would pray and consult the Scriptures. However, it seems that we too often consider the logistics of a situation without engaging the spiritual reality. We are the church of the living God. We should desire God’s opinion more than the management books, polling and general opinion of Joe Churchmember.

    Samuel arrived right after Saul finished the sacrifice and he was HOT! He could not communicate the level of disrespect Saul had just shown. As a result, God’s hand of blessing would be passed to another family.

    When we choose the logical over the spiritual we run the risk of God turning His face to another.

  2. Hezekiah Approach (2 Kings 20)

    Hezekiah was in his later years. Sennacherib had besieged the city only to be turned away. The King became ill, but recovered. Then his pride and ego got in the way. Envoys from Babylon, that rich and power hungry people, arrived and he showed them everything. Isaiah came in later to ask what he had been doing. Isaiah informed him that one Israel would be carried off by them. Hezekiah’s reaction to this is a dangerous attitude we find in churches today.

    As long as it doesn’t happen to me then it does not matter creates a gap in your faith through which sin can enter.

    There are loving, good people sitting in our churches that have this feeling. We must broaden their perspective. We must provide the vision of investing in the future. The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 has a potion dedicated to those who worked tirelessly for something they would never see. We must enable and engage those who want it just for themselves to respond evangelically. There is no selfishness in the Gospel. In fact, there is no “I” in the Gospel either.
  1. Andrew Approach (John 6)


    Andrew was a faithful follower of Jesus. I think he also dealt with esteem issues. He was nagging his brother to come and see. Later he struggles with the notion that Jesus could actually use what he brought to the situation.

    There were 20,000 people gathered and Jesus had just challenged them to feed the group. They had no food. They didn’t have enough money. Jesus wanted to see what they would do. In search of an answer, Andrew found a little boy with a little lunch. He brought it to Jesus but shied away, “What is this in light of so many?”

    How often do we do that with God? We look around, shrug our shoulders, throw up our hands and nearly deny the miracle God wants to reveal. We’re too small. We’re too poor. We’re too old. We’re too rural. We’re too uninformed. We’re too traditional. All of these have I heard over the years; all of which amount to no good reason to shy away from the Master. Nothing is impossible with God. Take your emotional issues out of the solution and see what God can do.

    When we focus on what we don’t have we risk missing the miracle of God.

  2. Abraham Approach (Genesis 15)

    Abraham was running on spiritual fumes. God had promised and he followed. God reminded Abraham of the promise and this time Abraham laid his life on the line with full confidence that God would be faithful. God credited this type of faith in the promise as righteousness. He wasn’t perfect even after that moment, but his heart was in it to experience all God promised.

    This is what God desires. As he told the people through Micah, “You know what God wants of you: to act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.” Your church needs this vision and promise of God as they walk through the tough years of transition. I don’t believe God desires any of His churches to close their doors. Yet, may do so each year. Why? Because they don’t fully believe God can do it.

    Abraham believed the promise of God.

    These four are common men like us. They have flaws. They have issues. Yet, Abraham believed the promise of God. Will you? Every church I know is going through some form of transition. Eighty percent of our churches run under 100 each weekend. You are struggling. You are tired. You aren’t sure what is coming. I beg you to trust in God. I urge you to follow the Word at every point in your structure, policy and governance, and watch what God can do through you. Remember, it is not what you do for God. It is what God does through you for the World.

    It very well could be a rebuilding year for you and your church. Make the most of it!


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