Church revitalization experts and local associations or networks are influencing churches all over the western hemisphere with the great challenge of church revitalization and renewal. What should you and your church do to set its own agenda for church revitalization?
Discover and study all you can from church revitalization leaders and their blogs, tweets, posts, websites, and publications.
The study of church revitalization and renewal is an evolving discipline. Many old school leaders are simply remixing the old church growth theory of the 1970’s and 1980’s in an attempt to remain in the game while expecting little in return. There is a growing group of church revitalizers on the rise across the land, which works effortlessly to assist local churches with the challenge of church revitalization. Gone is the ability to provide advice at the fifty thousand foot level. It has been replaced by groups, which have developed church revitalization assistance teams locally for the purpose of coaching novice church revitalizers with just-in-time assistance and resourcing custom designed for the individual church. Gone is the magic pill offered for the one size fits all approach. The rise of a single national church revitalization conference designed to raise the conversation is encouraging. Yet it is time for the local church to become less reactive towards church renewal and become more proactive. Many a church will wait until it is too late to make the hard decisions to embrace church renewal leaving few in attendance and the stakeholders refusing to let go and allow any chance for hope. While I would be the first to admit that the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus never changes, revitalized churches tend to be open to innovative methodologies for re-reaching and re-connecting with ones community for the sake of the gospel. Often within our culture and society it is the church which is the last to change. God has raised up a group of church revitalization and renewal practitioners from many denominations, it is time we begin allowing them to assist our churches to bring about change.
Be grateful for a few time-tested revitalization principles.
The sheer longevity of the Sunday School movement is remarkable. It has prospered for more than two hundred years and adjusted well to many societal changes. Many innovations endure for a single generation and then disappear. Sunday School has proved to be resilient and adaptable. It certainly has not outlived its usefulness as a way to organize a New Testament church. Tens of thousands of Sunday Schools will be going strong when some of today’s fads are only memories. The importance of not only Bible study groups, but groups in general cannot be over looked. Groups connect more individuals to the church long term than those who attend worship services only.
Embrace slowly the “case-study” approach to church revitalization.
We should avoid the tendency to identify a successful church and reshape our church revitalization and renewal efforts to match that individual model. Some renewal churches and church renewal leaders ought to be admired for their successes. Yet seeking to force what works in one church will work in another is a dangerous slope for sure. Ones attempt to clone a successful church revitalization effort is not likely to succeed. Too many variables are involved. Your church is not exactly like the one you desire to copy. Being a copycat only keeps you from getting the precise vision and plan God has for you and your individual church. The real subtleties and undercurrents of a specific church may be overlooked and often misunderstood. The church revitalizer’s leadership style may not be transferable to you due to either, you are not ready for the challenges, or you are still lacking in the experiences the other revitalizer possesses. Each church renewal effort should reflect on its own identity by asking: Who are we? What has God called us to be and do? Churches that have the discipline to do so are free to be original!
Assume responsibility for your own church revitalization agenda before God.
Each Sunday is someone’s first Sunday in church. The need for friendliness and excellence; the importance of contemporary, meaningful worship; and the focus on inviting friends and relatives are not new! Only church members can do the work that enables their renewing church to reach its potential. No church revitalization and renewal specialist can make any church grow. Churches which are being revitalized conclusively, have demonstrated through the years that many different strategies can get the job done. Each church should carefully, prayerfully discover what God is doing and join Him obediently in His work. When God is allowed to take His rightful place as the head of the church, we will rediscover the glory of the local church.
One's church revitalization agenda must focus on God’s drawing lost people to crowds, but not one person can be saved without God’s intervention. Only when we confess this wonderful truth can we really begin to reclaim an unsaved and dying world.
You can connect with Dr. Tom Cheyney and the RENOVATE Church Revitalization Virtual Coaching Network additionally via Facebook at RENOVATE Conference. Tom is the co-author of Spin-Off Churches (B&H Publishers), a conference speaker and a frequent writer on church planting, new church health, and church revitalization. Be looking for The Biblical Foundations for Church Revitalization by Tom Cheyney and Terry Rials later this year. If you or your church would like more information you may contact him at Tom@renovateconference.org, or firstname.lastname@example.org.