When and why should a church explore the possibility of a revitalization process? What is the purpose? How does a church know it needs revitalization? These are swirling questions that are prevalent and frequent in Christian circles today. Church Revitalization is not a new topic, but it has gained lots of traction in an age of declining and plateaued churches. Revitalization and replanting are close in vicinity but far from the same thing. In a replant, everything is changed from leadership, location, and even the name. A church is given the freedom to come into an existing church building and call that place home. It is usually a young vibrant and recent church plant that doesn’t have a place to meet, or is renting space in the community. This post is not about replanting, but about church revitalization.
In the life cycle of a church, there comes a time when reflection and review are necessary in order to evaluate the church’s health. It could be a great exploration into insight and investigation. Just as we examine our lives and hearts prior to partaking in the Lord’s Supper, a church should do a periodic examination of the current state of health. So, over the next few posts, I will be looking at and addressing the ways in which to begin a process in order to conclude if you and your church are in need of church revitalization.
I spent time on staff at a church where every January, the pastor would do a state of the church address. It was a way of looking back on the past 12 months of what happened at this particular church. I always looked forward to it because it was a great way to hear, see, and remember all that God had done. The process was a collecting of documents, pictures, and testimonies form about Sep-Dec to make this happen in a Sunday morning service. We promoted it, announced it, talked about it, and reminded everyone to make sure and be at this important time of service. As the service began, there was a short sermon, a few testimonies, statistics, and of course worship music. But, the thing everyone was waiting for was the slide show/videos of all the amazing things God di over the pasted 12 months. There were pictures of VBS, small groups, baptisms, ordinations, people praying, events, outings, and more. It was the “wow” factor to the service. It was our way of a church examination. There were also times of loss, deaths, staff changes, and other sad news. And then, after all that came the challenge to move forward in whatever God wanted from us in the coming year. I know this wasn’t church revitalization, but it sure was a great way of honoring God in all that He did.
In a church revitalization, there is a way of understanding where you are as a church. We have tools to make that happen and understand where your church is on the life cycle graph. In a perfect world, we would like to do revitalization during the empty nest and retirement phase of a church. The hard truth for many churches is they are in the old age and death phase a the congregation’s life cycle. The best days are behind and it is a difficult thing to admit. But there is hope! God is in the resurrection business! He can and He will do humanly impossible things with His spiritually possible agenda. You see, in Jesus we have all we need to be revitalized as a person and as a church. Stayed tuned for more on Church Revitalization in the coming days.
Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,