Three Foundations for Church Revitalization

“Some churches just need to die.” I’ve heard some variation of this quote several times. It’s false. Certain congregations may indeed die but not because they need to die. If God can save any person, then He can save any church. I believe any church, no matter how far gone, has the potential to be saved.

Many established churches are in need of revitalization. There are degrees of revitalization, of course. In some cases, revitalization is needed in parts of the church while other areas remain healthy. Other churches could use a complete overhaul.

Regardless of the amount of work required, whether it’s one ministry area or the entire congregation, there are three must-haves of every church revitalization. These three must-haves apply to churches of any size or denominational background. Most churches will require more work beyond these three items, but the vast majority of revitalizations will include them.

  1. Proper expectations. Congregants must have a realistic view of the future. The glory days may not return, at least in the way people remember them. Poor attitudes often arise when unrealistic expectations are present. One of the main responsibilities of those leading the revitalization effort is to align the expectations of the church with a realistic objective for the next five years
  2. Outward focus. A stationary church is a disobedient church. No church can be revitalized without reclaiming an outward focus. An inward focus almost always produces disunity. An outward focus always produces unity. All successful church revitalizations involve an intentional, ongoing effort to reach and minister to those beyond the physical walls of the facility. In almost every case, the outward focus begins with the lead pastor. Evangelistic churches have evangelistic pastors.
  3. Relational skills. Church revitalization often fails because the pastor has poor relational skills. The converse is true as well. Successful revitalization is often led by a church leader with good relational skills. Poor relational skills are driven by either an unwillingness to be held accountable or a lack of self-awareness, or both. A pastor lacking in relational skills will not foster the culture necessary for revitalization.

There are three must-haves of every church revitalization: proper expectations, outward focus, and relational skills. Without them, revitalization efforts will likely fizzle.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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COMMENTS

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Carter Kerns — 07/31/18 10:22 am

I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124

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5 Warning Signs of a Dying Church

Change or die.

Imagine hearing those words from your physician. I hope you would be motivated to change. Eat well. Exercise. Stop smoking.

You get the picture.

Okay, I have some tough news for you who are members or leaders of about 100,000 churches in America.

Change or die.

You read that correctly. In fact, if your churches don’t make substantive changes in the next few years, your church will die.

So what churches are at risk? Instead of naming the specific churches, I have listed them in five categories. The categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

  1. Shallow roots. These churches are no longer rooted in Scripture. They have drifted from the clear teachings of the Bible to a secular or social approach to ministry, which is really not ministry at all.
  2. Self-entitled. Another name for these churches are “country club” churches. The members demand the church serve them. They have to have things done their way, or they will leave. After all, the pay their “dues” (offerings) for their perks and privileges.
  3. Negatively critical. The members of these churches spend more time criticizing than they do evangelizing. They are in regular conflict. Some run off pastors. They wear out pastors and staff and “good” church members.
  4. Ignorantly idolatrous. It’s easier to get away with heresy in these churches than to make certain changes. No one can use the parlor. We can only have a certain style of music. We better not mess up my service by adding another service. In each of these cases, the members have idols, though they would deny it vociferously.
  5. Evangelistically anemic. The Great Commission is the great omission in these churches. Church members no longer share the gospel. Maybe the pastor is not evangelistic either. There are no new Christians in the church.

Nearly one of three churches will die in the next few years. They must change. Or they will die.

I wrote Who Moved My Pulpit? to provide leaders a roadmap to lead change in their churches. I wrote out of conviction and a broken heart. I wrote it with the prayer and hope that it can be used to make a difference.

Maybe I wrote it for your church.

Maybe I wrote it for you.

Change or die.

For many of you, there is a choice.

But time is quickly running out.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.