Church Revitalisation : one size doesn’t fit all !
A revitalised church is quite simply a healthy church. But churches can lose their health at various stages of their life. This diagram shows four critical moments in the life of a church.
The first one, surprisingly, is when the church is growing, because it is all too easy to get into a routine and not plan for the next stage of growth. This may be because the church is becoming inward looking, or because their ways of reaching out to non-Christians are no longer effective. Without change at that critical moment, the church will probably plateau within a few years.
Thom Rainer in his book Autopsy of a Deceased Church suggests some responses for a plateauing church which has “symptoms of sickness”:
- Pray that God will open the eyes of the leadership and members for opportunities to reach into the community where the church is located.
- Take an honest audit of how church members spend their time being involved.
- Take an audit of how the church spends its money.
- Make specific plans to minister and evangelise your community.
If nothing is done, the church will begin to decline. Thom Rainer again offers four responses for churches which are declining and are “very sick” :
- The church must admit and confess its dire need.
- The church must pray for wisdom and strength to do whatever is necessary.
- The church must be willing to change radically.
- The change must lead to action and an outward focus.
If none of this is done, and unless God intervenes dramatically, the outcome of severe sickness is death. May God give us the grace to build healthy churches.