Statisticians generally agree that church attendance in America is on the decline. This issue remains challenging to understand, yet also carries just as many opinions on correcting it, as there are writers willing to confirm it. While views on church growth vary, Christians do still agree on a few points.
- Until 100% of people on Earth profess that Jesus is Lord, then there is work to be done within the church.
- And….well…I guess there is just one point we can ALL agree on. But that’s ok, a little common ground will take us far.
Statistics always show that some churches decline and close, while other churches begin, grow and thrive — so we know church turnarounds can occur. So what can those churches in decline do? The answer is: (*buzzword alert*) Revitalize. The word is easy enough to understand and most people do not need to really dig into the definition; however, I wanted to get back to the foundations of the term, so I looked it up.
Merriam-Webster defines revitalize as: “to make active, healthy, or energetic again”
Dictionary.com says: “to to give new vitality or vigor to”
Energy. Vigor. Vitality. Picture it in your mind. Imagine those terms describing your church. Sounds good, right?!
Now consider this, dictionary.com’s primary definition is: “to give new life to.” Does that sound familiar? Remind you of baptism, anyone?
When we as as a Church baptize people to celebrate their new life in Christ (celebrating their revitalization, if you will), are we then modeling this new life as a body of believers together? If not, consider how you are breathing new life into your church. How are you baptizing your church through revitalization?
Use these 5 questions to assess if you are baptizing your church through revitalization:
- Does a significant portion of our congregation get together with other members outside of Sunday morning worship times?
- Does our church teach new Biblical insights weekly?
- Does our church provide opportunities for our people to go deeper in the study of God’s Word?
- Does our church frequently provide opportunities to engage our members in community outreach projects?
- Does our church make evangelism and disciple-making a priority? Can we point to evidence of that? How are we facilitating this?
The list could go on and on. But the point remains: if you want to baptize your church in celebration of it’s new life, then you need to live it out and ensure it happens.
So, what do many pastors do? Look at what “successful” churches are doing, then copy them. Stop! That’s not your church body, your people, your location or your vision. Each congregation carries a different DNA and culture with it. Yes, investigate what other churches are doing, but you will still need to do the work of finding what will be the best fit for your church, your people, your location and most of all, your vision. Your unique vision.
There are great published resources out there to help you in this process, but engaging a professional to come alongside your church and help navigate the course will almost always be the quickest means to the end. (Don’t know where to start? Look at these things to consider before you hire a consultant.)
In addition, a professional consultant can help your church leaders navigate the rocky pathways to change and facilitate the tough conversations that need to be had. You’ve got blind spots. Everyone does. Get some help to evaluate where you are and envision where you’d like to be.