Church revitalization is not just for dying churches. Churches that are relatively well attended and consistently meet budget could use revitalization too. In fact, many church members assume that because people show up and the bills are paid, everything is going good at their church. But the reality is Lifeway Research has found most churches are plateaued or declining and need revitalization (Link To The Research).
After receiving such news, I realize that you may wonder how you can know if your church needs revitalization. Today, I want to answer that for you. Here are four ways to spot a church needing revitalization in no particular order.
The Church is Focused on Attendance Over Depth
A focus on church attendance can be a good thing. It is wise to monitor these numbers because these numbers represent people. However, it becomes a real problem when worship numbers are all that church leadership gauges. When the leadership is more concerned about how many people are attending than how people are growing deeper in their walk with Jesus, the church needs revitalization.
Questions to investigate: Who is growing in their relationship with Jesus? How are the church ministries contributing to spiritual growth? What kind of disciple is being made from the church ministries?
The Church is Focused on Generations Over Transformation
Have you ever been to a family-focused church? Have you been to a church so focused on reaching the younger generation that the children’s ministry is crazy good, and the ministry seems to revolve around the family structure? This focus on reaching the next generation can be a good thing. We need to make tiny disciples in our homes and ministries. But it can become a problem when the only “younger generation” is our own children. When our only baptisms are the children of church members, we have placed the generations of our families over the community’s transformation, and the church needs revitalization.
Questions to investigate: Who has been baptized in your church over the last 2-3 years? How are they connected to the church? How did they come to know Christ?
The Church is Focused on Faithfulness Over Vision
“Just be faithful.” I hear this all the time, and it resonates with my soul. I want to be faithful and know that I need to be faithful. This is good. However, I believe that Christians need to be faithful in more than just showing up. Churches have a purpose and a task. We need to be faithful to the vision God has given us. When a church is more focused on the faithful few who are inside the walls than the lost who need to gospel outside the walls, they need revitalization.
Questions to investigate: What is the purpose of your church? What is the mission of the church according to Jesus? What is your church’s vision to accomplish the mission that Jesus has given?
The Church is Focused on Traditions Over Mission
This is the easy one to identify. Every church has traditions and ways of doing things. Sometimes these can be very good and healthy for churches. If a church has a tradition of sharing the Gospel with its community or serving it as a demonstration of Jesus’ love, that tradition is incredible. The problem arises when the church traditions overrule the church’s mission. When the church is limited because “that is not the way we have always done it,” there is a big problem. When a church holds its traditions over the mission Jesus has given them, they need revitalization.
Questions to investigate: What traditions does your church have? Are these good or bad for the mission and health of the church? Does your church operate out of tradition (doing the same old things the same old way) or mission (doing whatever it takes to reach people for Jesus)?
Church, let’s ask ourselves some of these challenging questions and get to the task of revitalization.