Preparing Your Church for Long-Term Revitalization

By Kyle Bueermann

In two recent episodes of Revitalize and Replant with Mark Clifton, Mark Clifton and Mark Hallock discussed five tips for preparing your church for the long-haul of church revitalization. While the work of revitalization will always be difficult, if you can clarify some of these expectations for your people, you can help cut down on misunderstandings during the process.

1. Accept the reality of the time it will take

There are no silver bullets when it comes to church renewal and revitalization. If you try to speed up the process, you will be frustrated and you will frustrate the folks in your church. As Jonathan Smith, director for Church Health and Growth for Texas Baptists, likes to say, “Don’t microwave the brisket.” In other words, some things are worth the long time it takes to prepare. Church revitalization is one of those things. (Brisket is, too!)

2. Make certain your family is on board

Before you jump head-first into church revitalization, you need to prepare your family for what this process will look like. Of course, you can’t anticipate every single criticism or situation that may arise, but you can prepare them for some basics:

a)     It’s going to be a long process (see #1 above).

b)     You will be criticized during the process, sometimes unfairly. This will no doubt be difficult, but it comes with the territory.

c)     Some folks will leave. This will be painful. Your wife and kids may lose friends in this process. While grocery shopping in Walmart, they may run into folks who don’t like you or your family very much.

d)     The pain is worth it. It won’t be easy, but you will see God do amazing things as His church experiences new life, health and growth. As pastor Sam Calhoun said in a video several years ago, when you see God at work in your church, “It’s worth every pain, it’s worth every prayer, it’s worth every tear. It’s worth it.”

3. Give the church members the same dose of reality

You need to help your folks understand two big things: 1) the current reality of the church and 2) the process to move toward health. Even if your church is extremely unhealthy, it’s likely that many (maybe even most) of the people in the pews don’t understand just how unhealthy they are. It’s going to take some time and hard conversations for them to come to that realization.

4. Learn to be content with three steps forward and two steps backward

Slow and steady will win this race. You will experience some great victories, and you’ll experience some setbacks. As someone wisely said, “Don’t let success go to your head, and don’t let failure go to your heart.” Don’t lose heart in the process. Trust that the Lord is working through the process. Keep your eyes focused on Him on the good days and the bad days!

5. Be content and celebrate small victories

Are you seeing baptisms for the first time in a long time? Celebrate that! Have you seen a ministry experience new life in the community? Rejoice! Make sure you’re taking time to celebrate these things as a church body. One almost-universal truth I’ve witnessed is that churches that don’t celebrate together will fight and bicker. Point out reasons to celebrate what God is doing in and through your church. Praise Him for His faithfulness, and use these victories to call your folks to keep on trusting Jesus boldly in the process of renewal and revitalization.

For more on preparing your church for long-term revitalization, check out these two episodes from the podcast:

Part 1,  Part 2.

Published April 16, 2024

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Kyle Bueermann

Kyle Bueermann is a Rural Specialist for the Replant Team. He served as a youth and music minister and as a senior pastor for nine years in New Mexico. He’s married to Michelle and they have two kids: Noah and Hailey. He’s a fan of the Texas Rangers and loves black coffee. Kyle and his family live in Lubbock, TX.