Harry Reeder (of Embers To A Flame) outlines the principles of church revitalisation as he discerned them from the Bible.
I like the notion that “The objective is not church growth. It is church health.”
A while ago I settled on the plan of encouraging mgpc to do what a healthy church does because that would be a way to grow towards health.
If we waited for arbitrary yardsticks of health to be achieved before doing healthy things we’d spend longer not being healthy.
We haven’t pursued Reeder’s paradigm with all the bells and whistles. (I’m not that focussed, nor am I convinced that it transfers perfectly to our context, but probably more of the first reason than the second.)
And intentional discipleship is probably still a weakness.
Also, when I think of some of the challenges ahead of our churches in Adelaide this resonates significantly.
Anyway, this is lengthy, but well worth reading if you’ve never read him before and a succinct reminder if you have.
In 1980 a young Pastor fresh from seminary arrived at his first pastorate encountering startling realities. Although thinking he was fully aware of the issues at hand, he soon learned this was not the case. When you get “onsite” you soon gain “insight.” Church attendance had diminished from more than 1,000 to an average of 55. There were no children’s Sunday School classes because there were no children. The average age in the congregation exceeded 70 and its past had become glorified nostalgia. On his first Sunday, the service ended at the expected 12:00 hour. As he and his wife made their way to the lobby, amazingly, in spite of the infirmities of age, the congregation had exited and were rapidly emptying the parking lot. The box of church attendance had been checked and they were ready to move on. There were no sounds of fellowship from lingering crowds…only an empty sanctuary and parking lot within five minutes of the benediction. The pastor, who had gone outside to speak to the departing congregation, was embarrassingly locked out of the church building by the equally rapid exit of the part-time church janitor. After breaking into his own church to obtain his Bible and car keys, along with his wife’s belongings, they looked at each other with an increasing realization of how enormous this challenge would be. But, there was more to come.
Here was a church in decline and its demise imminent. It could be said one flu season would put the church out of business. Even the Presbytery counseled us to sell the property and use the proceeds to plant another church. Yet the neighborhood was full of unreached people. The daily vandalization of the church revealed two factors. One, the neighborhood viewed the church as a derelict unused building. Two, the neighborhood knew of its presence. Could this church be revitalized? Knowing that revival is God’s work and I could preach and pray for revival but only the Lord could bring one. I also found a Biblical pathway to lead a church back to spiritual vitality? Let me explain.
Read the whole post here.