EPISODE #53 – PRAYER AND URGENCY – THE REPLANT TWO STEP
This week the guys celebrate the arrival of Fall, Bob celebrates that his beloved and dismal Razorbacks are sitting atop the SEC leader board (having played no games.) Jimbo tells about his very eventful “view of a call” Sunday and the barf-O-rama that preceded it on Saturday night. Along the way they talk about leadership, prayer and creating a sense of urgency.
The Leadership Two-Step
- Stop and Pray
- Create a Sense of Urgency
There’s never been a significant move of God apart from significant prayer. Listen or consult the show transcript below for specific info on how to incorporate prayer into your Replant.
Here are some helpful resources to consult in your effort to lead change.
Leading Congregational Change by Jim Herrington
Who Moved My Pulpit, by Thom Rainer
Leading Major Change by Jeff Iorge
Flickering Lamps, by Henry and Richard Blackaby
40 Days of Prayer Guide, Kentucky Baptist Convention
Show Notes: want to read along while the show plays? Check out this episode’s show notes below delivered by: Descript
TRANSCRIPTS are an approximate account of the audio recording and may not be 100% complete. Audio should be consulted for accuracy
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Alright, here we go again. Bob love it. I’m glad we’re past the birthday episode.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:08] Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:08] it is not our most listened to episode at this point.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:12] Hey, but we had fun putting it together and editing it. And Hey, I just want to say happy birthday to the replant bootcamp. We are now entering into year two. We’re excited about it. And we’re learning lots and Jimbo fall has broken here in St. Louis and the Arkansas Razorbacks are a top. The SEC leaderboard.
Right now, if you go to sec standings right now, you will find that the Arkansas Razorbacks are sitting on top we haven’t played a game, nobody’s played a game. And the only reason we’re a top of the leaderboard is because a starts the word Arkansas.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:54] Yup. Yup. And so, it’s just a sweet little thing for you guys to enjoy it for a minute. See what it looks like, that have the name of there.
Bob Bickford: [00:01:02] Hey, I don’t think Arkansas can win a football game against a Jay’s truck driving school. I just don’t think it’s possible.
JimBo Stewart: [00:01:10] We’ll see. We’ll see what happens is sec starts this Saturday.
Bob Bickford: [00:01:14] Yes, ed O and O is going to be leading the, uh, tigers go tigers. He’s going to be leading the tires on that. Hey, your boy, Joe Burrell. He’s not doing too bad.
JimBo Stewart: [00:01:25] he’s doing pretty well. He’s, uh, some excited and, and my, my saints gave Tom Brady his first loss as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So, that’s a win that not only is it a win cause the saints won, but you also got to watch Tom Brady lose.
. Well, Bob, I think something for us to talk about over the, maybe the next several episodes is how to lead. Maybe this is one that the argument Razorback coach needs to listen to how to lead change in a church. And here here’s what I think is a good time for us to think about this. I think we are far enough into the two-week period that was supposed to flatten the curve to realize it’s not a two-week period. And I think a lot of pastors I know have. Reconciled their soul to the fact that this is just something we’re going to have to deal with for a while, even if you’re all the way fully back open, most churches.
I know, not all, but most churches I know are still really kind of struggling with the impacts and implications of covid, whether that be economic attendance, morale or all sorts of things. And so, most guys are kind of. Figuring out how to, how do I adjust it, how to keep moving forward and end that some guys are figuring there’s some things that we need to change.
We can’t continue to do the same moving forward. And so, I think thinking through a clear process on how to do that would be helpful.
Bob Bickford: [00:03:00] Absolutely. What is our new, the new set of circumstances are becoming clear to us. I think a lot of guys are ready. Roll the sleeves up. And attack them there. It’s not time to continue to wait around hoping that next week is going to bring a change. It’s time to actually do some work right now, some hard work.
So, I think there’s gonna be a great series of podcasts for us, and we hope they’re encouraging to the guys that are in the trenches.
JimBo Stewart: [00:03:25] there’s a lot of resources out there on change leadership. I’m an effectively ministry is leading change, right? Because we should never stay the same maintaining where we’re at is not spiritual growth. And so, at some level we’re always trying to lead change in some way. So, there are a lot of resources that we’re going to pull from as we talk about this.
So, John Kotter is kind of the godfather of changed leadership out of Harvard business review. He wrote an article. We call it leading change. Then a book called leading change. You wrote another book. That if you want like a fun cartoon story version with pictures, and you don’t want to read a Harvard business review book, you can read our iceberg is melting by John Kotter, which tells some stories of penguins and icebergs, and it communicates a lot of these ideas and a really easy to read format.
And then I think like in the nineties, the leadership network did their own version of it, that they took what he wrote and called it. leading congregational change. And then Tom Rayner did what Tom Rainer does so well and codified all that information into a little pocket-sized book called who moved my pulpit, in which he makes some adjustments to the change leadership process as well. and he condenses that down into eight steps as well.
And I think. These models give us some information that we can build that off of. And we’ll kind of add our own flavor to it as we go. So today I’d like to cover the first two steps, stop and pray. A season of prayer would be step number one, a season of prayer step number two, two would be two.
Define and confront reality so that you can complete indicate a sense of urgency. these two are not only sequentially preeminent in a list. I would, I would even argue philosophically. These are probably the two most important steps that you could take.
Bob Bickford: [00:05:24] consider it the revitalization or replanting two-step. Right. It is like the, this is what you gotta do right before you go. So, thinking about the first one, stop and pray is there, is there just a one that’s almost the beginning of that even is to go, Oh my gosh, we got to pray.
JimBo Stewart: [00:05:45] Yeah. It’s the recognition of, okay. We should probably stop for a moment and pray.
Bob Bickford: [00:05:51] Yeah. Cause if you look around the church that needs to be replanted or revitalized, you’re going like, dude, this is way more than I’ve got in the tank. And if this thing’s going to turn around, it’s not going to be by force of personality and my preaching and all of the giftedness that I bring to the table.
Like we’re in a situation where we need God’s intervention.
JimBo Stewart: [00:06:14] that’s a great foundational step because it is admitting I can’t do this in my own strength and strategy. It is, it is an admitted, not only from you as the leader, but from you as a leader to the congregation. Hey guys, this is not something that we can be cool enough to pull off. This is not something we can pull off strategically.
This is not something that we can market our way out of this is not something that we can, whatever this, I mean, this is something that requires a movement of God and Rob, you can historically find the correlation. You will never find a major movement of God, historically. It was not preceded by fervent prayer.
Bob Bickford: [00:06:55] absolutely. When we try to lead a church forward on our own, we’re going to struggle and it’s not going to happen. And I’m, thankful for that in the sense of, it really doesn’t depend on the, and I’m not the one who makes things happen. I remember not. I would ask you this question.
what is the first incident that happened, happened in your replant journey that made you realize. I better start praying because I know mine.
JimBo Stewart: [00:07:22] Monitors before I even started. So, two things in particular that happened the weekend I was here preaching in view of a call. I’m supposed to preach Sunday morning. And then we have a luncheon after church for them to ask me questions. Saturday night we’re in the hotel with three little children and I go to bed around 10 o’clock and about. 10 45 children. Number one starts throwing up all over the hotel about 11 child number two, and then about 1115 child number three literally vomiting over the entire hotel room.
Bob Bickford: [00:08:03] Oh, my God.
JimBo Stewart: [00:08:06] I should have known. That what I was walking into was difficult. and so, yeah, my sweet wife was really trying hard to like, just, no, JimBo you just sleep, just sleep. I can’t sleep. There are people. Vomiting four foot from my head. There’s no way I could sleep. she’s like, look, you got to go to Walmart, you got to get me some cleaning supplies.
We’ve got to clean up this hotel room. So, I make a midnight run to Walmart. I have a bunch of cleaning supplies come back. Clean up, we end up, barely making it through with any sleep that night, uh, God had provisionally set. So, another long, amazing story. Two of our closest friends from New Orleans surprised us Saturday to just to be supportive and drove all the way to Jacksonville.
And so, they said, let us sit with your kids while you go tomorrow to church.
Bob Bickford: [00:09:03] Oh my God.
JimBo Stewart: [00:09:05] So they sit with the kids. And so, the church is expecting us with our three kids and everything, and Audrey and I come in and sleep deprived and no kids and tell them, Oh, the kids are all vomiting. You might want to keep your distance from us.
Who knows if we have it, whatever. Great. Start everything. I preach. We go to have lunch. And then a lady walks up to me now, unbeknownst to here’s the backstory to understand why this lady walked up to me, unbeknownst to me. I knew nothing. The mother church that took on our church communicated to them that they would no longer continue to operate the WMU within the budget.
The women’s missionary union. I, you have to understand. I did not. I had no awareness of what a WMU was prior to this much less that there was some sort of agreement that there would be no WMU. And so, we’re at launch I’m smiling and everybody and this senior don’t lady walks right up to me. And just, what do you have against old women praying for missionaries?
Bob Bickford: [00:10:04] Oh my God.
Thank you. Sponsoring church for that wonderful set up.
JimBo Stewart: [00:10:14] She didn’t tell me her name. She didn’t like it. I was like, uh, nothing. I have nothing against people praying for missionaries. She goes, so you don’t mind the WMU meeting. And I was like, hold on. I have no idea. What we’re taught. Like, I would need to know more information. I have no idea I’m not going to get, like I thought, I almost said, you’re not going to trap me in a question like this out loud, but I said it in my head, and I was like, Mmm.
I mean, I don’t mind you meeting and praying about missionaries as far as a WMU to talk to our sponsor church and figure out what they’ve, what sort of things they’ve made with you. And she was like, Well, all we want to do is meet and pray for missionaries. And I was like, okay. I mean, you can do that. I’m not going to stop you from meeting and praying for missionaries, but I pretty quickly, it was like, okay, all right, I’m going to have to pray.
I’m going to have to be led by the spirit and this and this work.
Bob Bickford: [00:11:13] Oh, my gosh. Well, um, when I realized our replant or revitalization is going to be a matter of prayer, I went out to, to, uh, Lunch with both of the staff members part time staff members, not, not together, but individually. And the first one I met with was the admin. Uh, he was a seminary grad had been, in St.
Louis to do seminary, not a, not an SPC seminary, but graduated then was three years, was just working as the admin for 10 hours a week and looking for churches. And, you know, there’s a whole story there too. So, I go out to, to a lunch with him and he’s telling me about the church. And so, he says, well, here’s this Sunday school class.
And they’re the oldest ones in the church. And they don’t like the, any other body, any of the other Sunday school classes in the church. It’s like, okay. And then you said it was in this Sunday school class. It doesn’t like that Sunday school class because they didn’t help with the Decker. They didn’t help with the Christmas decorations when it was time to decorate the church.
And so, they got offended and they don’t like each other. And. And he said in this Sunday school class, they really don’t do anything they’re young and they don’t really give anything to the church. And so, he’s telling me all of a sudden, he made, he said, and he’s kind of like the org chart of the church really was what it was like the spiritual org chart of the church.
And then he’s that, and I’m kind of right in the middle. And I kind of relate to all of the Sunday school classes. And in particular, I aligned myself with the oldest Sunday school class because they helped my family financially and they take good care of us. And I thought, brother. I am going to really have to pray like this is what I’m getting into.
This is a disaster.
JimBo Stewart: [00:12:50] Yeah.
Bob Bickford: [00:12:51] So that’s the moment I was like, okay, I’m going to pray for this cheeseburger. And then I’m going to silently pray that the Lord begins to bring revival to the church and helps this guy find a new position.
JimBo Stewart: [00:13:03] it’s such a crucial thing to realize that this is not something you have within you to be able to do. Is, this is not a Disney movie. This is, this is not a look within your heart, and you have the answers. This is not Oprah. This is replanting and revitalization, but brother, you don’t have what it takes.
You don’t, you don’t have what it takes.
Bob Bickford: [00:13:25] You know, it might be kind of like an episode of hell’s kitchen a little bit. I think I’m a little bit, perhaps if we’re talking about genres of shows or extreme home makeover, uh, all those sorts of base, but it’s, uh, typically if you’ve been in a church or you’re going to serve a church and it’s been in decline for more than five or 10 years, in most cases, several decades, Brother.
It’s going to be a mess and it’s going to require much prayer.
JimBo Stewart: [00:13:56] Sometimes it might be like an episode of hoarders. As well, if we’re just going to throw some shows on there. Uh, yeah. So, so here’s a couple of things to prayer. Some things we do recommend, uh, one I would recommend, uh, legitimately I would recommend prayer walking on your own. I mean, coordinate and schedule some prayer walks for the church.
But to this day I prayer walk our whole facility every Sunday morning. Uh, every Sunday morning, I get here as early as I can by myself. Walk around. And unlock doors and I get things ready. As one thing I don’t want to delegate to anybody else. I want to be the one that does that because it’s just a sweet time with me and the Lord prayer walking over the whole facility, but I’ll prayer.
Walk it on the own sometimes as well, scheduled prayer, walks, prayer, walk in the neighborhood and getting to know people while you’re doing that. And then I believe there is, resources out there by Kentucky state convention, as well as Texas state convention on it. We’ll put some links to in the show notes that will be really beneficial for you to do with a, 40-day prayer focus for church revitalization, with some scriptures and kind of devotional thoughts.
That’s a free resource, for you to use, to lead your church in 40 days of prayer.
Bob Bickford: [00:15:16] Good stuff, man. I think the other thing when we’re talking about. Prayer. I, we really benefited from having a few folks who are our family friends, pray for us, be an external prayer team. And we could send them unfiltered, you know, requests just to say, Hey, could you pray about. This situation or this individual that God would change your heart or this, you know, struggle.
And it was a wonderful, awesome thing to be able to develop a prayer team that supported us as replants and replant her spouse. When we engaged in the process.
JimBo Stewart: [00:15:49] One of the things I’ve learned over the years, Bob, is that. I have a tendency to offer solutions sometimes to people who don’t, I don’t even recognize a problem. And I’ve realized that actually doesn’t get me very far. And so, we have to all agree on the problem first, before we can get to a solution.
If the, if there were one change leadership thing, I could go back and tell myself in the very beginning, that would probably be it that, spend a little more time. Creating a sense of urgency, understand get survey, define, and confront reality. Get a good look at what’s actually happening history of the church, current situations and the community reputation.
Everything really gets a good look at what’s actually happening and kind of a Nehemiah taking a survey of the walls type way. And the resource I was going to say is flickering lamps. Henry and Richard Blackaby have a study called flickering lamps. So, one of the things I like about it is even though it’s a video study, if you’re dealing primarily with senior adults, I mean, it’s, it’s a senior adult leading, um, with Blackaby and it’s not.
And I mean this honestly in a good way, it’s not like super cool polished. Editing and production with lots of changing camera angles and B roll footage. And I actually think that’s a win, because most senior adults don’t really care for that. And, and so this is going to feel good to them to watch spoken to them by senior adult and helps them confront some realities.
Bob Bickford: [00:17:27] That’s a perfect suggestion and the reality. Are most people who are, are in the declining church and have been there for some time, realize that things are not going in the right direction. And there’s two, two aspects about that. One is the numbers. And so, as you’re helping define reality, create a sense of urgency men chart up those numbers.
Over the life history of the church, you know, 20 years’ worth of data and trends in finances and attendance and membership and all those sorts of things. But you also have to do this. You have to get under neath the, um, I’d say little discipling culture in the church and, and bring that out into the open.
For instance, most churches declined because people are not inviting. People to church, they’re not sharing the gospel. And most of the time they think that’s the pastor’s job alone. Like let’s just call the pastor in and if he’s good enough evangelist and winsome enough and involvement enough community and dynamic enough in his preaching, then he’ll, he’ll reverse our number problem.
Right? Well, you don’t see anywhere in scriptures where pastors are called to reverse the number problem. They’re called to disciple and empower the body and help the body move on mission. Right. And becoming ambassadors of Christ plus clinic proclaimers, demonstrators of the gospel, those sorts of things.
So, in addition to defining reality numeric, you also have to figure out ways to reveal the church’s spiritual condition and, you have to look at how help the church understand how they’re doing as disciples and followers of Jesus. We had a couple of surveys that we did with one church and they had had historic decline, a lot of conflict.
And we ask a couple of questions. One was when’s the last time you shared the gospel with somebody, and their answers were amazing in the sense that only of the 16 or so people that we interviewed only two had none. So, within any given time period in recent time period, we asked him the question. When is the last time you invited anybody to same, same thing.
Nobody was inviting anybody. And some of them even said with everything that we’ve got going on in the church and the conflict that we have here, we did not feel it was a good place to invite our friends to come. Those are spiritual issues that create numeric issues. And so. I would say to the re planter, if you’re building, a sense of urgency, don’t fail to discern and bring forth the spiritual condition of the church.
And bring that out and help people see where they are. There are some surveys that are good in that, but there are also some surveys, I guess I would caution against too, because there are surveys that talk about the programs of the church. And, and do you like the programs of the church and are they healthy and helpful and are people participating in them?
What we’re talking about here is really trying to unlayer the spiritual condition of the hearts and people in the church, not do they like programs or participate in them. So, as you’re looking at surveys to discern the health of your church, be very careful and be very discerning about which ones you employ and maybe you just need to create your own.
Right? There are some really good forms of survey monkey or Google surveys and, and forums where you can do your own and they’ll automatically populate them into. pre-determined percentage graphs and charts and all those sorts of things. But I think the big thing is how do you help the people understand where they are at spiritually?
Because when we’re doing a consultation, we roll in there. We said, look, as leaders you’ve told us that out of 16, only two of you you’ve actually shared your faith in the last year. Um, how many of you think that that’s okay. Right. And they may not answer, but they’ll sit there with the weight of that. And they’ll see that presented to them visually and they’ll realize, oh my gosh, we’ve got an issue.
Right. We’ve got a, we’ve got a problem. And so, then that’s the starting point. Like we’re not being disciples, we’re not being, uh, proclaimers or demonstrators of the gospel. Not just, we’ve got a numbers problem.
JimBo Stewart: [00:21:30] Yeah. And depending on the numbers in your congregation, if it’s small enough, You could even do some set, you know, in home visits with almost every member, if not every member and ask them anecdotally, instead of a survey, if you don’t have too many members, you know, and you can handle the load of doing this without sacrificing your family time to do it and just ask.
Tell me your story. Tell me your faith story. Tell me why, why this church, how long have you been at this church? And I mean, you get, even if your church is too large for you to do that with everybody, you need to do that with some of the members and just hear their stories, hear the things, take good notes, ask good questions and, and help people see, and then.
One of the things that I did here was had a series of what we called family meetings, where we were just very Frank and open and honest and have some discussions and talk through reality, talk through the history, celebrated some things, celebrated some legacy things. And, and I would, I would. Try to find ways to ask questions where they would come to some conclusions about the urgency.
Instead of me as the brand-new guy, that’s young and from out of state communicating some things and try to help them. Buy into the urgency. Um, because one of the biggest, the biggest danger to change is complacency apathy. And so, we have to, we have to create a sense of urgency. John Cotter, who wrote the Harvard business review stuff says, uh, that creating sense of urgency was so important.
Even after he wrote leading change, he came back and wrote a whole nother book called creating a sense of urgency. Cause he just in his mind is a business guy that became the number one most important step. And what I would say is for us as believers and in a church. It’s maybe even more significant that we see that or, um, that we, we look around.
And so, one of the things I remind our congregation of all the time is within a three-mile radius of our church is 60,000 lost people. At the most conservative estimate, we could find in all the research we could do is 60,000 loss souls. Within a three-mile radius. That’s, that’s urgent. That’s a big deal.
And as a church, we ought, we ought to care about that. We ought to care about what our church is doing and impacting the community. And that the school I told them, one of the things that they said shocked them, but they were glad I said it was when I got here. The school next to us had been an F rated school, four years in a row.
And I said, guys, we have to repent of that. That’s on us. There should never be a school within a rock throw stones, throw of our church that is failing that badly. And so, we started getting involved and encouraging the teachers and it became a missional outpost for us. It still is a missional outpost for us.
And so, uh, so step steps, one steps, two step one is prayer. Season a prayer, 40 days of prayer, personal prayer, prayer walking, external prayer team, internal prayer team. You cannot over pray this thing. there is no huge movement of God that has ever happened. That was not preceded by fervent prayer. I’m convinced of that.
Step two. Is defining and confronting reality and getting a good, clear understanding of where the, what is the spiritual temperature of the church, not just the numbers, um, but the spiritual temperature of the church and getting a good sense of that. And basically, you need to communicate and get people to.
To buy and agree on a sense of urgency. Everybody’s got to get on the same page. If there is a very real problem that needs to be addressed. And then we can talk about solutions later. I think our tendency, my tendency is to run with solutions. We got to get to that urgency piece first. And so, prayer and urgency are the two first steps.