Why We Should Focus on Church Revitalization

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.

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5 Things Churches Must be Willing to Do in Order to Experience Revitalization

Many churches are in need of revitalization but are unwilling to take the necessary steps to make it a reality. It is something they wish would happen, but it is not something they are willing to actively pursue. Here are five things churches must be willing to do in order to experience revitalization.

1- They must be willing to refocus on the Gospel.

The primary problem in churches that need to experience revitalization is that they have lost sight of their Gospel-driven mission. They have experienced mission drift. They have lost sight of why they exist. Until they refocus on the Gospel and on their God-given mission, they will not experience true revitalization.

2- They must be willing to change their decision-making structure.

In some occasions churches have the correct decision-making structure, but have just been making poor decisions. However, more often than not, the issue is that the decision-making structure is flawed. The church is not a pure democracy and should not operate as such. While the pastors/elders are not to be dictators, they are called to lead and “rule” the church.

3- They must be willing to do things differently.

The current mode of operation is what led declining churches into their state of decline. It is foolish to think that keeping everything the same will magically lead to revitalization when it hasn’t in the past. Churches who are not willing to do things differently should not expect to experience revitalization.

4- They must be willing to pursue the next generation.

You may like Southern Gospel music, but I can guarantee you that the young families and teens that need to be reached don’t. You may like having an abundance of committees, but younger families are repelled by it. You may like the feel of a traditional worship service, but many in younger generations prefer a more blended or less traditional approach.

Here’s the point, if you want to reach the next generation, you have to be willing to make decisions that cause that to happen. You can’t keep catering to your personal preferences and expect the next generation to be reached.

5- They must be willing to say ‘no’.

Churches who wish to experience revitalization have to be willing to say ‘no’ to the good so that they can pursue the great. There are a lot of things that you could invest time, energy, and resources into. Many of these things seem like good things. However, it is not uncommon for these ‘good’ things to distract and take away a church’s ability to pursue ‘great’ mission-focused ministries and activities. Churches must be willing to say ‘no.’

Churches can experience revitalization, but it won’t happen on accident. They must be willing to operate in such a way that enables them to actively and aggressively pursue revitalization.

3 Mindsets that Contribute to Church Revitalization

There are many stagnant or declining churches in the US. While it is certainly beneficial to try to determine what has led to the stagnation, it is equally helpful to understand how a church can be revitalized. Here are 3 mindsets that contribute to revitalization in a church.

1- A Sense of Urgency

Complacency is the opposite of urgency and it can kill churches. Urgency says that there is work to be done, there is no time to lose, and opportunities can be lost if we stall. Urgency understands that there is something at stake and immediate action is needed.

For some churches what triggers the mindset of urgency is the realization that their church is dying. For other churches what triggers this mindset is the realization that they are not seeing lives changed.

Here’s the truth: complacency always leads to death in a church. Cultivate a sense of urgency.

2- An ‘Others First’ Mindset

Churches that are on a downward trajectory usually have a ‘me or us first mindset.’ The ‘me first’ mindset says that the church is here for me. It is here to meet my needs, align with my preferences, and make me comfortable. The ‘me first’ mindset is not concerned with reaching or ministering to others. Those with this mindset simply want to be catered to.

The ‘others first’ mindset says that “I will lay my preferences aside for the sake of reaching others.” It says “the mission of the church comes first.” It says “I am willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of advancing the gospel.”

Churches with a ‘me first’ mindset will never reach others.

3- An Eternal Perspective

Many churches that are dying have a temporal perspective rather than eternal. The questions that usually guide their decision-making process is incomplete. They ask “what do we need to do right now?” The question they should be answering is this. “What can we do right now that will have the greatest eternal impact?” If we do not have an eternal perspective we will not make the right decisions.

Churches with an eternal perspective are passionate about making a difference for eternity. They are more concerned with building God’s kingdom than their own. They are willing to say no to certain programs and ministries so that they can focus on those things that have a lasting impact.

It is hard for a church to make an eternal impact without having an eternal perspective.

Churches who want to experience revitalization, first have to change their mindset regarding ministry. They must realize that eternity is real and that Jesus is coming again soon. This realization leads to a sense of urgency that is focused on others and attempts to make a difference for eternity. Churches who do this will experience true revitalization.