7 Reasons Some Church Revitalizations Won’t Work

I believe in church revitalization. I’ve seen it happen, and I know it happens all over the country. Still, though, I’m convinced that some revitalization efforts will never work. Here’s why:

  1. Some churches only say they want revitalization. They speak the right language, but they’re unwilling to make the changes necessary for growth. They want revitalization, but only on their terms.
  2. Some revitalizers aren’t patient. The same revitalizing pastor who started with passion sometimes loses his zeal when he discovers that revitalization can take a long time. Pastors who live by the microwave don’t usually last long in revitalization efforts.
  3. They try to revitalize with only perfunctory prayer. Prayer is what they do when they start and end meetings, but it’s hardly in the congregation’s DNA. That means they’re trying to revitalize in their own power – and it’s likely their own power led them to the problems in the first place.
  4. They seek revitalization without ever looking at their community. They put their whole attention on addressing the issues inside the church (which aren’t insignificant), and they never ask questions about the community they need to reach. Their continued inward focus hardly promotes revitalization.
  5. Some revitalizers move too quickly. This issue, of course, relates to #2 above. Sometimes, revitalizing pastors move too quickly because they’re more committed to changing the system than they are to leading their people. Perhaps this equation will help you remember this issue:

Speed in revitalization + lack of love for the people + lack of prayer = disaster

  1. They try revitalization without asking for outside help. I’m not arguing that outside help is critical, but most churches that find themselves in trouble need outside eyes to help them see reality. The odd combination of insecurity and arrogance, though, can keep them from asking.
  2. Some revitalizers blame the struggling church when revitalization does not happen as quickly as they want. Actually, they’re an easy target. After all, they’re the reason the church is in its current state – and if the revitalizing pastor can blame them for being unresponsive to his leadership, he no longer has to focus on the hard work of leading them to follow.

What other reasons come to mind for you?

If you’re interested more in healthy church revitalization, I encourage you to check out Revitalize Network.


  • 1. They are not called to this specific task nor do they have the skill set it takes with one of the things you mentioned is patience!

    2. They have not prepared their spouse and children of the struggle that is going to face their family for years to come. Also in saying that their wife may not even be on board and if you are having to struggle with the church and struggle at home you are doomed.

  • Mark Bordeaux says:

    Thanks, Chuck. I’m seeking to lead revitalization of a church in Taylors, SC (pebblecreek.church) and it is challenging, but absolutely essential if future generations are to hear the gospel and have a healthy church in which they can grow. I’ve known “Passing the baton” by making disciples has always been our Lord’s assignment for His people, but now as I am in my late 50’s I see that is all that matters. Also, thanks David McBryar for your comments.

    I might mention if the pastor is concerned about what others think of him and his “success” he is setting himself up for failure in whatever ministry he may serve. In my experience, those leading a small, struggling group in hopes of seeing health and revitalization do not appear to be as respected as those leading larger ministries. It is funny how many invitations I received when I was in a large ministry as opposed to a small setting. So, if the pastor is not leading for the glory of God and “success” does not come quickly his pride may cause him to feel “led” elsewhere.

  • Scotty says:

    Could it be the intended end of the life cycle for some churches?

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