A church in need of revitalization presents symptoms in its giving, stewardship, attendance, and membership. And while those things are not the vitals of a church, they give a statistical analysis of the situation. A church may diminish through the process of revival, but a church that needs revitalization is lacking more than just numbers. It lacks new growth, vitality, vision, and excitement.
But although there may be a prevailing sense that the joy of the Lord has departed, the glory of the Lord has not departed. So can the embers be brought back to a flame? That is the question we have to ask.
Church revitalization is always a possibility. It was built into the life of the apostle Paul and we see this in his second missionary journey when he returned to revitalize the churches that he had planted on the first missionary journey. In the seven churches in Revelation, five needed revitalization. The Lord did not immediately close them. He gave a roadmap of church revitalization: remember, repent, and recover.
Between 88-92% of the churches in North America are stagnant and declining. Chances are a seminary graduate is not going to get the call to the 8% of healthy churches. He is going to get a call to a revitalization project.
When you step into a pastoral role where you see the symptoms of decline, it is easy for church growth to become the objective. Your only goal is to put bodies in the pews. Instead of gold, silver, and previous jewels, you begin to build with wood, hay, and stubble that will not endure, but will burn up in the day of trial and judgment.
A church can be big and be unhealthy. A church can be small and be unhealthy. Big is not necessarily good, and small is not necessarily bad, or vice-versa.
The New Testament church in Jerusalem was probably at least 15,000 people. Yet, we have other churches commended in the New Testament that are meeting in houses.
If church growth is a bigger objective than church health, it is only a matter of time until your ministry and message become pragmatic. Church health starts with the leadership. It starts with you and your gospel health. You must be Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, Bible-saturated and lead with the gospel, teaching and preaching the whole counsel of God. Regardless of his situation, and despite having unique gifts, every pastor’s tools are the same: the means of grace, evangelism, discipleship, worship, and intercessory prayer.
Do not make your objective church growth, make it church health. And that has got to start with you.