Revitalisation questions – looking to the future, what are the options?

Photo by Nikko Tan on

The other day, I shared some questions that I would ask churches when they are looking for help with revitalisation.  So, what next once you’ve answered those questions together.  Well, what I find helpful is to talk through the full range of options that may be open to the church. Hypothetically at least these include:

Finishing well: It may be that now is the right time for this particular local church to die and close their place of meeting. There are a number of reasons why this might be so. It may be that there is no energy left in the current congregation to do anything and the resources they have such as buildings may be a hinderance rather than a help to a new congregation.  It is also possible that the church simply is in the wrong place, the population have moved out. There could be perfectly viable evangelical alternatives close by.  Alternatively, sadly it may be the case that whatever has happened at the church has been so detrimental to the gospel that it would be impossible to have any new work closely associated with it. Finishing well will either mean that they continue to provide something for the existing congregation until most have died or are unable to get to

Just keep going. It’s not what I advocate but some churches choose it when faced with radical change.  They decide not have any further outside help.  They hope they can continue. Sometimes this is simply a way of delaying the first option and sometimes it leads to later intervention and change.  Of course, God can overrule all of our plans and ideas and intervene incredibly without them.

Merge: Sometimes the best option is to join with another church enabling you o pool resources.  Here though the aim is to still see a longer term witness in your community.  So, this could include joining with the other congregation for Sunday worship whilst meeting as a local community life group in the week.  If there is a building, it may either be sold off to finance gospel work by the merged church or it may be used as a base for weekday ministry into the community.  Another option would be that for a period of time the merged church operates as a multi-site church meeting in two venues until it is possible for an independent congregation to be re-established.

Re-plant: This is where the church seeks to continue as a viable witness but recognising that there needs to be change and that they will need help.  If this is the route forward, then you will need to find people to join the church.  It does not need to be a large group.  I’ve seen an example of a church experience turnaround with a new pastor and his family plus another couple and a few other people join them.  However, there needs to be a clear sense of purpose and vision.  There also needs to be a lot of grace and humility both from the original church members and the new people joining.  I also would suggest that you need to go through a process of death ands resurrection together of recognising that this is new life.  Whilst the new people may come from a variety of places, it is also helpful to have one specific local church acting as a support for the re-plant. I believe that there is a strong benefit in having at least one person supported as a full-time worker/pastor in the revitalised church and this will probably require outside finances for a time.

There may be other options as well that have not immediately come to mind and it may be that circumstances rule out some of the options here.  Even if the church decides to go for the fourth option, it may turn out not to be possible if people/resources cannot be found.  However, in my opinion this is usually the best option to go for and demonstrates a desire to see Gospel fruit.

If you are interested in talking about church revitalisation -especially if you are in the West Midlands, please get in touch via the contact form.

%d bloggers like this: