On October 20, Tim Challies had a post from Thom Rainer entitled, “7 Reasons Some Churches Experience Revitalization (While Others Don’t).” In the post, Rainer says,
I recently categorized those reasons some churches experience revitalization. I then compared them to churches that have not been revitalized. I found seven differences between the two sets of churches. These are the seven traits unique to the revitalized churches:
- The leaders and members faced reality. One of the reasons most churches don’t experience revitalization is their unwillingness to “look in the mirror.” Denial leads to decline which leads to death.
- Many in the church began explicitly praying for God to revitalize the church. I know of a leadership group in one church that prayed every week for over two years. The church is now in true revitalization.
- The churches had an explicit and clear focus on the gospel. Preaching became clearly gospel-centered. Ministries became gospel-centered. And many members began intentionally sharing the gospel, which brings me to the next reason.
- Members did not just talk evangelism; they did evangelism. I did not see a specific approach or methodology to share the gospel in these congregations. It was clear, however, that there was a more focused intentionality on sharing Christ than in many previous years.
- Many members in these churches began focusing on serving Christ through the church rather than seeking their own preferences. Another way of stating it is that these members became other-focused rather than self-focused. This attitude seemed to be directly connected to their prayers for revitalization.
- These churches raised the bar of expectations. Thus membership in these congregations became meaningful. Members moved from spectators to participants.
- The churches developed a clear process of discipleship. The members became more immersed in the Word. There was a clear and cogent plan to help members grow in their walk with Christ.
I found Rainer’s list interesting because I recently read his book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive. The book portrays 12 negative characteristics of a dying church while his list gives 7 characteristics of how a church can become healthy.