What Is Church Revitalization?

In my role as Kentucky Baptist Convention Church Consulting & Revitalization Team Leader, I’m often asked about revitalization. How do we define it? How can a church experience it? How can we lead it?

When I began my current KBC role, Dr. Kenneth Priest and I launched the national SBC Revitalization Network that now includes 41 autonomous state conventions. This group consists of Southern Baptist State Convention leaders who have responsibility in the area of revitalization. I currently lead the group as chair of the leadership team that includes Dwayne Lee (Ohio), Randy Millwood (Maryland/Delaware), Keith Durham (Arizona), and Ralph Neighbor (California).

Although many excellent definitions exist for church revitalization, we created the one below. We firmly believe that revitalization of a local church is marked by the components found in our definition.

The supernatural work of God that restores health in a church, evidenced by submission to God’s Word, right relationships among members, and a renewed commitment to Great Commission ministry. (SBC Revitalization Network)

5 Marks of Church Revitalization

  1. Revitalization is a supernatural work of God. Yes, we play a part, but ultimately it is the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said, “…I will build my church” (Matthew 16).
  2. Revitalization restores health in a church. Churches in need of revitalization are almost always plagued with poor spiritual health.
  3. Revitalization involves submission to the Scriptures. A key, repeated component of churches that experience revitalization is a renewed commitment to the authority of God’s Word.
  4. Revitalization often involves conflict resolution and forgiveness. Struggling churches often have conflicts within and/or between members that have existed for years. Resolving those conflicts is paramount to a sustained season of church revitalization.
  5. Revitalization focuses on the Great Commission. Churches desiring revitalization give proper place to The Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded…” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV).

Studies show that as high as 70% of SBC churches are plateaued or declining. There are many prayers to be prayed and much work to be done if we are to see churches experience revitalization. As part of our effort, the team I lead at the KBC recently released a book entitled, Lead to Revitalize: 15 Practices of a Revitalization Leader. If you have questions about revitalization, contact your state convention leader and they will be happy to assist you in this important ministry area. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions and/or suggestions.

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