Church planting has been somewhat trendy as of late. This is a wonderful thing. Stats tell us that new churches often do a better job of reaching the unchurched than do established churches. I pray this church planting boom continues. However, I would love to see the focus on church revitalization reach equal popularity. There are several reasons why I think this needs to be a focus.
1- It allows us to be good stewards of the property churches already own.
A very practical reason church revitalization should be a focus for us is that churches (even ones that are dying) already own buildings and property. Instead of seeing these facilities torn down or sold to developers, let’s focus on revitalizing these churches so that they are once again infused with life and energy.
This is a stewardship issue. Let’s not ignore the resources that already exist because the current church culture is challenging. Let’s revitalize the churches and leverage those resources for Gospel advancement.
2- It paves the way for church plants to merge with an established church.
Those who are planting churches are often looking for a place to meet. Dying churches are often concerned about empty facilities. Church revitalization brings the two parties to the table. In the past week I have heard of this exact thing happening multiple times in my region of the country. What a wonderful opportunity.
This is something that church planters have to be open to. It is also something that established churches have to be willing to pursue. But when both groups get excited about the gospel, revitalization can happen.
3- It is an avenue of discipleship.
Those in the struggling church need to be discipled. They need to be shown how their inward focus is standing in the way of them making an impact for Christ. This is not just about leveraging resources to reach the unchurched; this is also about discipling the churched. Revitalization allows that to happen.
4- It can be a great testimony to the community.
Imagine living in the same area for thirty years. Over that time you have seen a once thriving church, slowly decline and struggle. It is now on the verge of death. But something begins to happen. There is a renewed energy. There is growth. There is excitement. There are ministries started and new people coming. You learn through the grapevine about the revitalization effort that has taken place by way of churches partnering together to help this congregation become mission-focused. What a testimony that is.
Far too many people in our communities have watched churches die. It is about time they see churches revitalized.
I love church planting. But I also love church revitalization. When we pursue both, we will see a greater impact.