The following are my notes from John Mark Clifton’s workshop on Church Revitalization.
Money does not grow a church or Warren Road Baptist Church would have never declined.
We call it legacy church planting. That is planting a new church in a declining or dying church.
800 SBC churches close each year and dying churches rob God of his glory.
85% of all SBC churches are in decline. Without new churches the SBC will be in critical decline.
This is not easy. It is the hardest thing I have done and harder than any other church plant I have done.
This ministry builds on the legacy of ministry in dying church. You need to learn the history of the church. When you do that it is so important for the older members.
We need to redeem the building. Often times the churches built huge buildings that were 25% bigger than their biggest attendance. This really hurts a dying church when this huge building is so empty. People walk up and see it empty and then leave. So one thing we do is let other churches and ministries and groups use our building.
We need to redeem the resources.
Normative In Size
95% of all churches in North America are on average less than 100 in worship.
God has gifted most of to lead these size churches. Only a very few are gifted to lead larger churches. We must embrace this because unrealized expectations drain the leaders in the church. Also there is an amazing power in the neighborhood church and when the man who preaches knows every child by name. Do not ever underestimate the power of pastoring a normative size church!
1. For God’s Glory First and Foremost
We desire everyone to know Christ. As Piper said, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”
How will God’s name be made much of because this church exists?
When you talk to the older members of the church you need to help them see the revitalization as an act of worship to glorify God.
2. Firm in your commitment to the gospel.
The reason our church had declined was its loss of the gospel.
3. Consistent in your prayer.
We must have a war-time understanding of prayer. We must be intentional in our public prayers to model to the church how important prayer is.
4. Efficient in your organization and pastoral leadership
This is code for changing the constitution and by-laws. Most declining churches care more about the process than the outcome of the process. So we suspended the constitution and by-laws.
You need a form of governance that works well and functions well.
If the pastor is still there you usually need to get a new pastor but sometimes you can coach the pastor.
6. Incarnate In Your Setting
7. Intentionally Develop Young Men
This is critical. Young men are attracted to this because it’s hard and they can see a vision. So I targeted young men between the ages of 18-35. Great movements of God has always happened with teenagers and twenty somethings. I get into their lives and let them have ownership of the church.
8. Cultivate service to your community.
We started to really reach out to the High School and all sorts of community outreach.
9. Simplify Your Strategy
Gospel centered worship gathering and going hard for God.
Community discipleship groups that grow in the gospel and relationships.
Serving, the church and the world.
That is our strategy and you can write in a napkins.
10. Celebrate the legacy often.
I just kept telling them to love on our older members and I would tell them to find out what the elderly people like to do and spend time with them outside the church. This is huge.
Finally, If a dying church can’t do it then provide hospice care and ask them to use the building for new church plants.