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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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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What say you? Leave a comment!

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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