Gary L. McIntosh recently published a helpful book aimed at Church Revitalization called There’s Hope for Your Church. In his usual style, Dr. McIntosh provides practical, realistic coaching advice for pastors who are embracing the difficult task of helping one of the 75% of American churches that are plateaued or declining. In the next few posts, I’m going to share some of the key teachings from the Dr. McIntosh’s book.
Chapter 1 – See the Potential
If you are currently serving as a pastor in one of the 75% of churches that is on a long-term plateau or declining, THERE IS HOPE! There is hope for renewal, hope for growth, hope for new life! Dr. McIntosh says that there are at least three key reasons for such hope.
3 Reasons There is Hope for Your Church
1. God wants your church to grow. The first mention of the church in the Bible contains God’s promise that his church will grow: “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). Today there are approximately two billion Christians in the world. Compared to the small band of believers that met together in the upper room in Acts 1, the world-wide church makes it clear that Christ’s church has grown. God has kept his promise. God wants your church to be fruitful and multiply as well. Acts 12:24 reports that “the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied.” God wants his church to grow and multiply across the world as new believers accept the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ.
2. God revitalizes & restores churches. The New Testament records several beautiful pictures of restoration, such as the return of the prodigal son in Luke 15 and the call to the church in Revelation 2 & 3. The implication in Revelation is that God will restore churches that hear and repent.
3. God is revitalizing churches right now. Dr. McIntosh points out that for the last three decades he has observed churches throughout the United States and Canada being renewed and revitalized. As a Kentucky Baptist pastor for over 23 years, I have been privileged to lead three churches to varying levels of revitalization. I have also been amazed to observe other pastors do so as well.
In a recent Western Recorder article, I read the amazing revitalization story of the Hillvue Heights Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky where Dr. Steve Ayers serves as Senior Pastor. When he came to the church, only a handful of people remained. Under his 21 years of leadership, the church has baptized over 7,000 new believers and grown to an average weekly attendance of 4,000. Although Hillvue’s story is not typical, it is a vivid testimony that THERE IS HOPE FOR YOUR CHURCH!