Replanting is a little different to church revitalisation. There is a sense in which any church of any size could need and probably at some point will need a form of revitalisation to breath fresh life in. That might involve changes to personnel, culture and to teaching to enable renewal and/or reformation depending where the need is.
However, replanting tends to happen when a church has only maybe half a dozen to a dozen people left and where it only includes one demographic. It means recognising that the church is no longer functioning as a church.
A replant is likely to need more that just one person going in as the pastor and getting to work. And to put it bluntly, it can’t be done gently through subtle and slow evolution. Rapid turnaround surgery is needed.
My approach would be as follows.
- A replant will benefit from a relationship with another nearby church. It is like a church plant and so it will need to receive people to plant into it. This does not need to be many. It might be just a couple of families will make a substantial difference.
- I would bring the existing meetings to an end for a period of time. This enables a new start
- The new start needs to be different. There are reasons to why the church got to where it did. The replant needs to be recognisably different from the old church.
- The replant team is not just the new people coming in. It is one team made up of people from other churches and those that were part of the old church too.
- Not everyone that was part of the old church will want to join the replant. Pastoral provision is needed for them too.
Now, it may be a challenge to ask people to commit to such a venture. It is not going to be easy work. So, we want to find ways of encouraging people to join in without feeling that there is noway back.
So, one option I would look at is as follows.
- During the closure period, the members of the old church should be invited to attend the supporting church with the re-plant leader.
- Even once you begin to re-open, why not encourage all members to continue attending the supporting church for the Sunday morning service along with the plant leader and the rest of the re-planting team from that church.
- Then identify a time of day to run something that is an outreach event designed to invite and gather people from the community to hear and respond to the Good News. For example, this could be a Sunday afternoon messy church type event.
- Develop midweek community groups which integrate people together for fellowship and Bible study in the local community.
- Ask the re-planters to commit to this for a year. At the end of the year, review and invite them to begin joining together for Sunday morning worship, planted out from the sending/hosting church.
This of course isn’t the only way to do things – but I believe it is worth considering.