A Beginner's Guide to Church Revitalization

I think I might be on the lead wave of a cool new movement in the conservative evangelical world (OK cool and conservative evangelical don't quite go together, but...). We've had church planting, but frankly that's getting a bit dated now. Where it's really at these days (or where it's going to be at) is church revitalisation.

OK, I'm being flippant - church planting is very important and great and needs to continue and increase. More than that, especially in denominations like the Church of England, faithful Christians have been working to revitalize local churches since the Reformation! It's just that I notice a renewed interest in this aspect of ministry and mission.

The Americans are in on it. Back in 2010 Mike Mckinley published Church Planting is For Wimps about Church revitalization. In 2011, 9 Marks published a really interesting journal on the issue. Conservative evangelicals in the Church of England have been getting in on the act. Matt Graham wrote about it in a recent issue of Churchman and the ReNew Commitment from 2014 headlines revitalization. That follows a booklet from 2009 on an at least related topic by Paul Darlington: Evangelical Ministry in a Non-Evangelical Parish.

This, ladies and gentleman, is a movement!

I think it's reasonably obvious why it has come about. There are two related reasons:

  1. The decline of Christianity and thus the church has led to an increase of churches that need re-vitalizing.
  2. The push to increase the number of trained gospel ministers through ministry trainee schemes, preaching courses and the like has created many more conservative evangelical ministers than their are conservative evangelical jobs in thriving churches.
Hence, you now have many ministers trying to work out how to revive churches in all sorts of different situations and we're looking for wisdom on how to do it.

So, I've decided to write a beginner's guide to church revitalization. The beginner in this case may be the reader, but it is most definitely the author - in other words this is a guide written by a beginner! Guide may also be a bit more formal than I will achieve. I intend to write a series of my reflections and would be more than happy for others to pitch in.

On that note, I don't have so much of a plan as my other new series. I think next time I'm going to write about some of the things that describe a church that needs revitalizing, because I think it may help to have some way of mapping the different types of church revitalizations.


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