While I’m in the church planting zone, another related subject I’m interested in is church revitalisation. In our area there are plenty of very small congregations of 30-50 that have declined over the years due to poor leadership and traditionalism. These congregations require a renewed focus on the Gospel, and leadership to help them become evangelistically effective in the 21st Century This is essentially the kind of ministry we’ve been involved in at Scots Presbyterian church over the last six years. And it’s the kind of ministry that is in high demand in our denomination. We have friends already involved in this kind of ministry in a neighbouring parish, and two other neighbouring parishes which have recently become vacant (ie their ministers have moved on) are also in desperate need of revitalising.
It’s my observation that growth through revitalisation is a fair bit slower than growth through new church planting. Your energy and focus is divided between change management and evangelism and inevitably there is more compromise. And yet at the same time there is a real joy, both for ministers and congregations, in seeing plants that have wilted springing back in fresh growth.
The question is, of course, whether church revitalisation bows too much to the needs of existing congregations who often find change difficult, and whether it would be more effective for the gospel to shut down existing congregations sell the valuable (but sometimes impractical) property, and start from scratch. What do you think?