There is a misconception in church revitalization that I don’t think we talk enough about. See, we’ll often discuss the life cycle of a church – birth, growth, plateau/stagnation, decline, and death. We’ve talked a lot about how churches need to consider revitalizing when they hit the plateau/stagnation stage. And that’s true, they do.
But what would it look like if churches began asking what revitalization will look like when they’re still in the growth stage? The reality is, no church is going to grow indefinitely without making changes. Structures and systems that were once vibrant can become stale and routine over time. And the fact that none of us is without sin means we are all susceptible to blind spots in our leadership.
Revitalization is an ongoing process in the life of a church. Your church will never reach the point where there is no more change to be done. You’ll never “arrive.” There always will be ways your church must realign with the gospel.
Now, I know this can seem overwhelming – “You mean we’ll never be done with change?!?” Well, not completely. Now, there will be seasons when less change will be needed, but there always will be more work to do.
Here are four areas that ongoing revitalization is a reality in your church.
Buildings and facilities
I begin here not because buildings are the most important thing; they most certainly are not. But buildings are also easily neglected until they become a burden. Take a look around your facilities and consider ways – maybe even small ways – that you could revitalize them. Perhaps the fellowship hall needs a new coat of paint. Maybe the children’s area needs new carpet. If you’re a new pastor in a revitalization or replant, you’ve probably inherited a building that needs quite a bit of work. Don’t feel overwhelmed; rather, look and see some small things you can do to help renew the building you’ve been given.
As long as there are folks in your community who don’t know Christ, your work of evangelism isn’t done. Most churches I know struggle in this area. Our evangelism efforts don’t have to be flashy or complicated, but they do need to be ongoing. And, if we’re honest, most of our churches probably could handle an evangelism emphasis very soon. This is one thing that can easily grow stagnant over time. Even the best evangelism strategy can lose its effectiveness if it’s not re-emphasized and renewed on a regular basis.
This does go hand-in-hand with evangelism, but discipleship strategies also can grow stagnant over time. Like evangelism strategies, I’m not sold on having to do the “latest and greatest” or “most-innovative” discipleship strategies available, but we do need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of what we’re doing from time to time. Re-evaluate how your strategy is working, how it needs to be revamped and how you can continue to bring new people in and launch them out as disciples of Christ.
Teams and/or committees
So many churches have all the committees or ministry teams they do simply because “We’ve always done it that way.” For churches in need of revitalization, this often means having the same number of teams and committees the church had when it was much larger. This can lead to burnout for those serving in multiple roles.
Growing churches aren’t immune to this issue, though. A church in the growth stage may have too few committees or teams to manage an ever-growing list of ministries. This can lead to undue stress and burnout on the part of those juggling multiple responsibilities.
Committees and teams are wonderful servants, but they are terrible masters. So, take a look at where your church is now, and at the realistic growth you can experience over the next couple of years, and structure your teams and committees appropriately to best serve your church and offer your folks opportunities for serving your church well.
Published October 26, 2022