The restart based church revitalization model is being used all across North America. Any group planting churches or working in the area of church revitalization should have a restart strategy if it is going to be a wise steward. I never sought to write a step-by-step process for doing a church restart. Yet, so many have used this material over the last twenty years that it has become such a process. Sometimes I get kind notes of encouragement thanking me for the bold stance and unwavering advice offered within this strategy. A few times I have been ripped apart by those not brave enough to consider such drastic steps to move their local church towards a new expression of health and vitality!
The idea of a church that is dying taking the necessary steps to provide it the best chance for survival is not an easy idea to consider. For those who have been part of the setback, admitting that they have hurt the church is hard indeed. Those who will take over also have a challenge in that it will be under their watch that they seek to change those traits, now embedded in the local church, for the betterment and opportunity to turn around a church that is in rapid decline.
It is amazing to me today that many individuals that attend a dying church see nothing wrong biblically with allowing their church to die along with them. It is as if there is a secret message, which reads: “The last one alive, remember to turn the lights out!” Humorous? Possibly! Tragic for sure because the local church is the very thing which Christ Jesus gave His life and yet we treat his local church with such irreverence that it is no wonder churches are dying all across the world.
This Restart Strategy is a vital piece for anyone working in church revitalization efforts and for those who possibly lead church planting efforts. If the two disciplines could join forces at this point perhaps it will be the local church that wins. Change is going to happen within the small rapidly declining church and this strategy offers an opportunity for a turnaround that is working, has been working for decades, and needs to be reconsidered in light of the advancing decline and plateauing of our churches today.
This strategy is a journey of hope for the local struggling church, which is facing hard decisions in light of its future and what it will do to insure a Gospel lighthouse remain in the community it was placed for many more years until Jesus comes to take all of us to Glory. Take the journey with those in your area, which are working to revitalize churches for the sake of Christ. Become willing to embrace the opportunity for your church to survive rather than close down in failure. Allow the Lord God to bring forth a miracle for your church as He transforms the work of ministry within your midst. Pray that the Lord will rise up a group of committed new leaders with the energy to work and turn your church around. Ask God to bring new families into your worship center that have never heard the gospel message and are now drawn to hear the glorious message of salvation in Christ Jesus. Seek transformation not stagnation. Ask the Lord to transform your church, each one of you as individual worshippers and Christ followers. Watch how God will transform your individual families and bring a new expression of “church” right where you live.
Next week, we will take a look at what kinds of churches are candidates for a restart.