Let’s state the obvious here. If we let a church die and go out of business, then bring a new group into the building and start afresh with something different, we have not revitalized anything. We have held a funeral and then birthed a new flock. And that is often necessary and good.
We’re talking here about taking a dying, dwindling congregation, one that has been on the decline for years and even decades, and turning it around, giving the people new vision, and watching God turn it into a strong body of believers.
Hard to do? You bet. And, may we say, pretty rare, too. Most dying congregations are that way for a reason, chief among them being that they are wed to the present way of doing things and are dead-set on not changing a thing.
A young friend will be leaving his church soon to move to another state where he will be taking the pastorate of an older congregation that has been dwindling in numbers. Members who remain are all in their golden years.
The pastor was excited but clear-headed. He knows this can be hard in the best situations and impossible in others. So, wisely, he’s picking the brains of seminary professors and veteran pastors with experience in the business of turning around dying congregations. And, he’s interviewing young ministers who are accomplishing this very thing, wanting to know what they have learned.
As is often case, his small congregation has invited a larger, dynamic church to adopt them, completely turning over the keys to them, so to speak, which is the only way to achieve this. The big church is the one bringing in my friend to lead the one on life-support. That’s a good sign and shows the weak congregation is serious about wanting to survive and have a strong presence in their community.
For what they are worth, here are a few of my comments to the young minister….
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