In North America, more churches than not are plateaued or declining. That fact doesn’t mean, though, that those churches have nobody who’s praying for God to revive them. In fact, church revitalization is a growing commitment movement today. For those churches needing revitalization, maybe these reflections about Christmas will give you hope:
- Darkness is not final. The prophets had foretold Jesus’ coming, but the darkness reigned a long time. It seemed to rule for centuries, through the rise and fall of several kingdoms. It faced its end, though, when the Light was born in Bethlehem. The darkness won’t win over God’s church, either.
- God works in His time. It was in the “fullness of time” that God sent Jesus (Gal 4:4-5) – exactly the right time in history. I wish I could tell you how long it will take for God to revive your congregation. I don’t know that answer, but this I do know: God’s timing is always right. Trust His calendar and clock.
- God works in unexpected ways. As far back as the Garden of Eden, God announced that He would send someone from the seed of woman to defeat the serpent (Gen 3:15). His plan, however, was surely unexpected: God would come as a baby born to a virgin likely resting among animals in a small village. How God will revitalize your church might surprise you and your congregation, but that’s okay. That’s the way He often works.
- Humility matters. God lowered Himself to become one of us. The baby Jesus wasn’t born to a political queen; he was born to young unmarried girl whose name is now known solely because of her role. He wasn’t born in Rome, or even in Jerusalem, but in the small town of Bethlehem. Shepherds, not kings, first heard the good news of the birth (Luke 2:8-14). Later, Jesus would humble himself even to death on a cross (Phil 2:8). I suspect that God is looking for humble leaders – not those who are seeking to build their own kingdoms – to be instruments of revitalization.
- It’s okay to rejoice out loud. The angels sang out, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:13). The shepherds glorified and praised God after they’d seen the baby (Luke 2:20). When God works miracles (even like revitalizing a dying church), somebody needs to be singing out loud. Perhaps He will revive more churches when some of us learn to praise Him more loudly.
If you’re leading a struggling church, let the story of Christmas give you hope today.