Over the past few weeks I have shared highlights from some reading and study I am doing regarding church revitalization. I have had the privilege of serving on pastoral staff, planting and pastoring a church, and working with churches in times of transition and change. SBC of Virginia has been committed to church planting since our founding and we are now seeking to learn more and grow in our commitment to church revitalization.
Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13) focused on church planting, but the second time around, strengthening and revitalizing churches was needed.
Acts 15:36, And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Acts 15:41, And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (ESV)
A number of books can supplement and add commentary to our biblical study. Harry Reeder’s From Embers to Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church is a resource that prompted the following:
Reeder offers ten strategies to facilitate a biblical paradigm of church revitalization—remember, repent, and recover the first things. Here are six through ten…
(See http://www.brianautry.com/briansblog/2019/2/28/revitalize-part-two for one through five.)
Revitalization Strategy 6: The Primacy of Preaching. Reeder shares, “And for any church to be alive for Christ, it must have a prioritized ministry of the Word from the pulpit that is faithful to the Scriptures and applicable to the needs of the people in their own generation, with the understanding that the consistent answer is always Christ and the gospel of grace.”
Revitalization Strategy 7: Staying on Mission with a Vision. Reeder explains, “Your church needs to understand what God has called it to do and what God has called it to be, in the situation in which God has placed you. A mission statement and a clearly articulated vision, originating with the pastor and being fine-tuned by other leaders, will lay a foundation on which God’s work of revitalization will be built.”
Revitalization Strategy 8: Servant Leadership Multiplication. More leaders are needed. Modeling and identifying leadership is necessary. We need leaders who love the Lord and are ready to serve Him and His purposes. Reeder writes, “A leader influences others to effectively achieve a defined mission together.” Reeder offers his list of twenty characteristics of effective leaders. Here are the first three:
Effective leaders take risks, but don’t deny reality.
Effective leaders are innovative, but not ridiculous or novel just to gain attention.
Effective leaders take charge, but do not oppress people.
Revitalization Strategy 9: Small-Group Discipleship. Decentralizing ministry through small groups, effective Sunday School, or some type of group strategy makes ministry doable and expandable. Groups become a way to make a larger church more connected and enables a smaller church to grow larger while maintaining connection.
Revitalization Strategy 10: A Great Commitment to the Great Commission. The goal is to grow as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Various descriptions of a healthy disciple-making church have been offered.
May the Lord encourage you and strengthen you in the work He has called you to serve in these days. SBC of Virginia in on a mission to strengthen and mobilize churches to make disciples and plant churches…and revitalize churches through Gospel partnership!
Your brother in Jesus,