Revitalizing Churches.

The urgent need of our time.

All of the latest research on churches points to several facts:

  • In the US attendance at church is declining (now at 17%)
  • About 3,700 churches close every year
  • About 4,000 churches start every year (Net growth: 300 churches)
  • We need more than 3,000 new churches each year to simply keep pace with our population's growth
  • Many growing churches gain most of their members from failing churches.
  • This is true in all parts of the Church in America: Roman Catholic, Mainline and Evangelical.

Clearly if we do not revitalize the churches of America, the percentage of people in the Church, Jesus’ Church, in America will continue to fall. Our Lord deserve better. He commands better.

“Make all peoples into disciples
(apprentices of me)
by going to them,
(we change to reach them)
baptizing them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
(we enfold them into Christ’s body)
and training them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
(so that they do more than sit in pews).”

Matthew 29:18-19

If we are going to have to revitalize churches in four different ways:

  1. Strengthen existing churches A healthy church, one which works the way God designed churches to work, will effectively draw people to Jesus. Through its love, leadership, worship, passion and so many other things the church has, through the centuries transformed the lives of whole populations throughout the world, including America. Healthy churches in America can and are just as effective.

    However, many churches lack that essential spiritual health. There are several ways to regain it. One way I have seen is effective is Natural Church Development. There may be other ways of increasing heath in a church. Whatever way we choose, we all need to be very serious and diligent in seeing God’'s body increasing in strength.

  2. Refocus churches’ visions on Outreach All of our churches were established to bring the Good News of Jesus to someone, even if it was just our children. They did not exist to keep established members happy, but to make younger members and non-member holy, different, more like God through Jesus Christ.

    However, our present priorities (as shown in budgets, buildings and time/activities) show that for many of us our focus has wandered. We pour 90% of the gifts God has given us into maintaining and expanding that which pleases us, and which does not effectively reach others with Jesus’ message. As a result many of our churches go for years without someone who did not already attend another church becoming members of ours.

    Today we need to think outside the box. We accomplish Outreach not only when we enfold people into our present worship services, but also when we establish satellite services at other locations, nesting congregations in our buildings and many other innovative approaches. Some of then can be noted in the Fresh Start Models suggested by the Reformed Church in America, as well as those found in Bob Humphreys’ Fresh Start curriculum for church consulting.

    How can we get back on track? It may be a simple as comparing our stated purposes with our actual actions. By considering the people around us and how Jesus can most powerfully touch their lives we can find plenty of Mission Opportunities. We may even know who to reach and how already, but our ministry programs do not align with our stated mission. Of course, we may not even have a stated mission to reach out to the community. There are people whom no other church can reach but your’. Seeking God’s specific mission for your church can be found in a number of ways, including a VisionQuest and through an On-site Interim Pastoral Ministry.

  3. Match the leadership for the churches to the task of the churches Not every pastor is the right pastor for your church. Not even every “good” pastor is the right pastor. Every pastor has unique gifts, training, temperament and experience. How will you find the right one?

    The right pastor will be the one who can help you follow where God is leading you. Knowing God’s mission for His church (aka your congregation) will enable you to write a more accurate Pastoral Profile and choose a pastor on more than preaching. If God calls you to enlarge your small group ministry, you will want a pastor with that kind of experience. If your mission includes a new ministry to local military personnel, a pastor with some knowledge of the needs of those people will be important.

    Since mission provides the vital context for calling a pastor, a Mission-centered Pastoral Search will focus your search. This can be done both using pulpit supply between pastors or as a part of an On-site Interim Pastoral Ministry.

  4. Increase the reproduction of the churches Planting daughter churches revitalizes the mother church as well as expands the Kingdom. Recent studies show that new churches (those under 10 years old) more successfully draw unchurched people into a relationship with Jesus than older or larger churches. However, we often overlook the fact that churches that intentionally daughter new churches regularly grow in their own abilities and effectiveness to reach out. The daughter church both reinvigorates the mother church’ passion for those without Jesus, and also becomes an incubator and test case for ministries that will later prove effective for the mother church.

    Many churches are worried about the timing. “How will we know that we are ready to plant a church?” Using Natural Church Development as well as other measures we can determine both whether your church is ready and what preparations you need to take to become ready to plant a daughter church.