I believe church revitalization is possible, and I want to help leaders ask the right questions, focus their spiritual disciplines, and move forward in the task. At the same time, though, revitalization can be one of the toughest faith challenges a pastor will face in his ministry. Here’s why:
- It requires seeing hope over despair. In some cases, the leader is the only person in the room who sees the possibility of revitalization. That’s a faith position, and it’s not an easy one.
- It forces leaders to determine if they really believe in the power of resurrection. We preach resurrection truth regarding individuals, but we sometimes find it tougher to apply that truth to dying organizations.
- It requires convincing people of the need for revitalization. In #1 above, the issue is a loss of hope; here, the issue is a lack of perceived need. That means that God must move hearts to see painful realities they don’t want to see.
- It tests a leader’s abilities. The same leaders who have a track record of success in other ministries often find themselves challenged and struggling in revitalization situations. Sometimes for the first time, they question themselves.
- It requires God-given patience. Churches needing revitalization didn’t get there overnight. They’re usually living a long-term pattern that demands patient urgency from their leader.
- It requires loving and leading believers who at times protect their comfort. Comfortable people don’t want change, and they sometimes fight to guard their turf and their history. Loving them takes faith.
- It invites attacks from the enemy. Satan delights in the decline and death of a local church, so he targets anyone seeking to change that pattern. Arrows of discouragement and frustration are common.
- It demands believing, even if witnesses of successful revitalizations are few. It’s not that those stories aren’t out there; it’s just that few leaders know many of them. They don’t have enough Hebrews 11 stories to run the race of Hebrews 12.
- It sometimes requires walking alone. Some revitalization pastors are serving in tough soil seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Even trusting that God is with them is hard if no one else seems to be on board.
If this post describes your struggle, let us know how we might pray for you. You have a bunch of readers who want to walk with you.
Thank you Professor Lawless, this article is timely. The struggle of revitalization is real, but God is greater than any challenge we may face.
Have faith, Noah!
Yes sir, Love you my brother!
As a wife of a pastor that is currently walk through this I can say yes to everyone of these!!! The road is and has been hard – so very hard!
If it’s not too late, I would value your prayers.
I am trying to revitalise a small church in southwest Sydney, Australia. By “small” I mean an average of 10-12 gathering for worship on Sundays.
I have been with this congregation for a little over a year now. Having been in ministry for 25 years, I have joined a new denomination. The leadership is making me go through the formation program of their seminary and it is the demands of this program that is really tiring me out. Too much repeating of material I have gone over many times before; too many supervisors; too much time tied up in assignments and attending seminars. This is all distracting me from and fatiguing me for the work I really want to be doing: the revitalization of this congregation.
Anyway, your article is spot on and describes the pressure I feel. I thank you in advance.
You have our prayers.
am just going through what you have described,,thank you for the encouragement..blessings
in need of prayers…am in the midst of it