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hope for churches in stress


Pastor Tim Bistline’s calling card identifies him as an “idea guy.” He is building on this strength to revitalize the long-established church he serves, Landisville (Pa.) Church of God.

In his first year at Landisville, Tim determined to just listen—to keep his proclivity for generating ideas in check while he developed relationships and established trust. Still, as ideas bubbled up irrepressibly, he wrote them down on 3x5 cards.

In his second year, Tim started to share ideas. He was careful not to push a personal agenda, but to look for common ground with the hopes and concerns of the congregation.

As people warmed to ideas, Tim worked through normal channels of congregational decision-making to build ownership and initiate action. Once approved, Tim looked for persons whose spiritual gifts matched the idea and, just as importantly, would take initiative for implementation.

Each week, Tim personally invests in multiple venues of communication (bulletin, newsletter, email, PowerPoint slides, website, Facebook, and Twitter) to coordinate a reenforced emphasis on one or two key ideas.

After four years, Tim’s ideas—encouraged and managed with wisdom—have resulted in a fresh “look” for a traditional facility. Staff and volunteers are pursuing new opportunities in church and community. And the church is enfolding new people in a pattern of steady growth.

With a continual infusion of fresh ideas, this pastor and church are striving mightily to become a healthy, thriving community of faith that is making a difference in the world.

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