While we understand that it is Christ who is going to build His church (Matt 16:17-18), we must enter an agreement with God that the church will survive. Yes, there are those prognosticators who have essentially given up on the established church, but Christ's promise still rings true. One of the reasons I love the church is because she is a survivor.
Therefore, we must approach church revitalization with the presumption that God has a plan for the church and then make that presumption your own. Let me suggest 6 presumptions necessary for church revitalization.
1. God Wants the Church to Revitalize. That statement may seem a little redundant, but I have heard both pastors and laypeople over the years make statements that they believed it might be better for a church to die than to change. Many times these statements occurred in the context of a discussion regarding relocation or a major strategy change, but I find it disturbing that any of us would believe that a church should die. Do churches die? Of course they do. Should churches die? If we believe that the church belongs to Jesus, then to offer an answer in the affirmative becomes a much more difficult conclusion. Therefore, I start with this presumption: God wants the Church to grow.
2. Church Health Results in Church Revitalization. In church circles today, many writers have moved away from the church growth terminology in favor of church health. An honest appraisal of some church growth methods today would affirm this need for a change in, not just nomenclature, but practice. I'm afraid that we have learned how to draw crowds but are we really making disciples? Church health speaks to specific practices and beliefs that identify a more solid foundation upon which the church is built, including: an authoritative view of Scripture, a focus on discipleship, a strong emphasis on biblical preaching, a connection to the community, a vigorous commitment to prayer, a dedication to genuine ministry, a submission to the work of the Holy Spirit, and a practice of personal evangelism.
3. Principles of Revitalization Can Be Applied to Any Church, in Any Situation. The emphasis here is not just on methodology but principle. Look at the principles taught in Acts 2:41-47 as an example. It is recognizing methodologically that what works in California may not work in your town. What is important is knowing your demographic and then, through principle, finding those methods that work. Allow biblical principles to determine your methods.
4. Church Revitalization Must Be a Work of God's Spirit. I've seen this statement in a number of blogs, books, and articles. If God desires for the church to be revitalized, He certainly can provide the power for that result to materialize. And if we desire for that work to remain, it must be a movement of God. It is a challenge for all of us in the church to make sure that we are walking with Christ.
5. Church Revitalization Occurs Because of Good Planning. A pastor needs to have a plan in hand in order to see church revitalization occur. It must be a work of God, but God oftentimes uses human means to bring about His purposes. He uses the art of preaching to communicate His Word. He uses methods of evangelism to bring people to faith in Christ, and He uses plans and processes to position a church to experience revitalization.
6. Church Revitalization Succeeds Because of Servant Leadership. We read any number of books that talk about leadership, yet when you read the Scriptures, the emphasis is not as much on leadership as it is on service. Biblical leaders are servant leaders. In a church world that struggles with an incredible ego (after all, we are in the culture of the selfie), servant leadership is absolutely necessary. Remember the words of Paul about Jesus in Phil 2:7 "Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave." Form is "morphe" in the Greek text. Jesus did not just look like a slave, He literally took on the inward character of one. I have often wondered if one of the reasons that we are not seeing God move as we wish He would is because of the undeniable presence of pride in the life of Christians.
Other presumptions may exist, but let me encourage you to start with these six. How can these 6 presumptions help you to find a greater determination for church revitalization. God has not given up on the church. We should not either.