I have recently finished reading Harry Reeder’s “From Embers to a Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church,” and I wholeheartedly recommend it to you. Reeder has served as a Pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America, a seminary teacher, and a conference speaker, specializing in church revitalization.
Church revitalization is a necessary ministry, but one that is often overlooked. We spend a lot of time and energy on planting new churches and on moderating fighting churches, but very little time or attention is ever given to the longstanding church that seems to find itself unable to grow. “Embers to a Flame,” doesn’t offer a program to launch church growth, but brings the church back to its foundations to fan the ember to a flame.
Reeder presents 10 strategies for revitalization:
- Connect to the Past: Learning from the Past without Living in the Past
- A Call to Repentance: Cover Up or ‘Fess Up
- Gospel-Driven and Christ-Centered Ministry: The First of the First Things
- Personal Gospel Formation: The Discipline of Grace
- The Priority of Intercessory Prayer: The Ministry of Prayer
- The Primacy of Preaching: The Ministry of the Word
- Staying on Mission with a Vision: Simplicity in Focus in a Day of Complexity and Chaos
- Servant Leadership Multiplication: An Effective Yet Neglected Strategy for Church vitality
- Small-Group Discipleship: The Biblical Delivery System for Effective Discipleship
- A Great Commitment to the Great Commission: The W.E.L.L. Church.
What I thought I’d share here is a brief overview of the wellness check of the Church. If you see your church in this, perhaps it’s time to pray for and work toward revitalization. Here are some of the symptoms of a sick church:
A Focus on Programs – Dying churches tend to be focused on programs, pinning their hope for success on the latest organized ministry for pre-packaged church-growth plan.
Nostalgia and Tradition – Dying churches are often living in the past… People are hoping that the pastor will move the church backward, to recapture the “glory days.”
A Maintenance Mentality – Hoping to just hold on, replacing the people they lost just so they can meet budget. They are merely polishing a monument rather than building a movement of God’s grace.
Distraction from the Gospel – Churches have grown ineffective in reaching the world around them because they have lost sight of the centrality of God’s grace. Something else has become more important than living according to the gospel and sharing it with others.
Do you see these symptoms in your church? How can you address these problems? If these are the problems your church faces, what is the solution?
I encourage you to get a copy of “Embers to a Flame” and see how revitalization is possible, and let us pray and work to that end.