Revitalization in our Churches

Does your church need revitalization? Of course, it does. Every church needs to continue to grow and become healthier every day—just like we ourselves do. This challenge will be before us until Jesus returns.
However, some churches are moving in the completely wrong direction, some are stuck on a plateau, and others need a booster shot to ward off the diseases that threaten their life and vitality.
Here are 7 ‘red flags’ to watch out for and then 7 steps toward revitalization.
 
7 Signs Your Church Needs Revitalization:

1.  “Our church is slowly getting older.” It doesn’t matter the median age of your congregation, the question to ask is, ‘are we getting younger?’ and if the answer is no, then why not? Since this sign is a slow-moving target you must use real numbers if possible to gauge where your church is at on this (i.e., babies in the nursery, youth attendance, etc.).
2.  “Yes, but…” is heard every time you ask about growth. There’s always a reason or an excuse for why the church is in the shape it is in: ‘our demographic is changing,’ ‘we’re in an older neighborhood,’ ‘I don’t have the right staff or leaders.’
3.  “Change is like pulling teeth around here.” You know revitalization is needed when there is always so much resistance to the important changes that are needed.
4.  “How much does it cost?” If the first and most important question every time a great idea or outreach is suggested is always a concern over money then you know you need revitalization.
5.  “Our building (or property) sucks up any extra money that ever comes available.”  Change and growth often cost money. But, if improvements on the building always trump outreach and ministry in the community, it will be very hard to build an outwardly focused culture.
6.  “Evangelism strategy?”  If your answer is, I don’t think we have one of those, and if we do it’s not really working then you have a revitalization problem.
7.  “Risk must be avoided at all cost.” Burying talents didn’t just happen back in Jesus’ time with the parable of the wicked steward. Some churches and pastors have a ‘safety first’ approach to finances as well, but without risk it is impossible to please God.
 
7 First Steps Toward Revitalization:

1.  Teach, Preach, & Talk about the Great Commission and reproduction as the biblical norm. However, you cannot preach your way to revitalization, as many pastors believe. Preaching is good, but only one of the key steps required.
2.  Develop a biblical template for measuring the spiritual health of the church. For example, on a scale of 1-10, rate some of the following in your church…  Generosity, Disciple-making, Joy, Freedom, Hospitality, Humility, Expectancy, Spiritual worship, Mature leaders, Deference to others, Care for the poor and needy, Love, etc.
3.  Develop the culture, thinking, and values you desire in your best leaders first. It is futile to try to change the culture without first changing your leaders. Jesus had twelve. You choose three or four.
4.  Be crystal clear on vision, values, and strategies. A mist in the pastor makes for dense fog in the pew.
5.  You, yourself model outwardly focused ministry.  Tell personal stories and evangelistic encounters (not just your wins), celebrate the wins you hear about in your own congregation, tell the stories that are happening right now, and tell stories of wins from the history of your church that help people see what our vision could look like.
6.  Press hard toward humility and generosity. Nothing demonstrates that a new day has dawned like giving money towards these new values. Humility and generosity is fuel for the fires of revitalization. He exalts the humble and generosity is like pure and undefiled religion.
7.  Pray.
*Bonus Step:  Take 5 of your best leaders to the Exponential Conference in early April!  It will kick-start some great conversation and give excellent training for your church moving forward toward reproduction.
 
-Bruce Young, Senior Pastor, True Hope Church- First Baptist

Angela Sanchez