revitalization: The action of imbuing something with new life and vitality.
(New Oxford Dictionary)
Church revitalization is an idea that has been around for a few years now, and many people have written and taught on the concept. Leaders on the subject say that church revitalization is a process by which a church is redirected toward a healthy and sustained purpose. It has also been described as a church returning to life, returning to vitality, or returning to health.
Reviving the church can take several forms: “revitalization, replanting, restarting, relaunching, or reclaiming.” It is not a one-size-fits-all type of process. At the SCBO we want to serve the individual needs of your church while assisting you to exalt Christ, proclaim the gospel to the lost, preserve the Word, and express God’s love to your community.
Keep reading to learn more or contact Steve Hopkins (SteveHopkins@scbo.org 614.601.6820) or Dwayne Lee (DLee@scbo.org 614.601.6824) at any time. In addition to serving on the SCBO staff, both of these men are also certified coaches for the Revitalize Bundle and ready to help you in any way they can.
Several leaders in Ohio share the story of revitalization in their church. additional videos can be found here
Beginning the Conversation
The pastor and the coach will meet to discuss the church’s current state and future desires. The second face-to-face meeting will be a report on the churches progress.
These calls happen in the interim of the face-to-face meetings. It is to keep the coach in communication with the pastor and discuss key next steps.
Getting an Accurate Picture
A small group study for the entire church. This study walks you through the seven letters written to churches of Revelation. Written by Henry and Richard Blackaby.
A collection of church/community surveys (including a 10-year report of ACP's) that helps determine the effectiveness and awareness of the church and its community.
Communicating with the Church
The coach will sit down with the pastor to go over all of the findings and discuss next steps.
This meeting is with the coach, Pastor, leadership team of the church. They will review all of the findings from the surveys and discuss as a group the best next steps for the church.
Reviewing the Options
The existing church + existing leaders + existing structire + history/legacy + renewed/new effort
A struggling church + a stronger church (or plant) + existing facility + new approach to ministry + new or assumed identity + commitment + humility
A struggling church + a healthy larger church in the immediate area + an agreement/commitment by the struggling church to be adopted/absorbed by the larger/healther church
Depleted resources, tired congregation, no ability/desire to continue + willingness to let go for the sake of the kingdom. The existing church closes, and deeds, assets and property are transferred to church, association, or state convention.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all need a push now and then.
You might consider the following questions:
- When was the last time we had first-time visitors return?
- Have we started any new Sunday School classes or small groups recently?
- Is there new life in the church?
- Are new believers being baptized?
The size of a church really isn't what matters, but whether or not the church is moving forward. When forward momentum begins to decline, it's the right time to consider how to "revitalize" the community of believers. Where will we look to find new life and vitality? How can we join together with the larger body of Christ for encouragement, prayer, and practical steps to see our church flourishing once again?
Success is not every church becoming a large church. Success is not simply a smaller version of a larger church. Success is obeying the Great Commandment and the Great Commission: loving Jesus – loving others – making disciples. “Making disciples who make disciples that result in community transformation.”
No church should struggle. If God can save any person, then He can save any church.
Church leaders need resources; we understand that reality. But it's just not enough. As Cooperative Program missionaries we are called to engage a broken world in need of the gospel as we encourage and equip pastors and leaders like you to lean more into Jesus. Then you may become more and more gospel-centered, rather than program dependent. This takes more than strategic planning or organizational structuring. This critical and sometimes complex work of revitalization must begin with Jesus.
This is not a journey you need to take alone. You will connect with members of our staff and others in the Revitalization Network. As you continue to grow alongside other leaders in your church you will find that God is always at work strengthening and building up His church. The Great Commandment and the Great Commission will evaluate our success – loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength; loving others in His name; and making disciples who are making disciples.