When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Church Revitalization! www.RenovateConference.org Facebook: Renovate National Church Revitalization Conference By Dr. Tom Cheyney Founder & Directional Leader
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When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Church Revitalization! To get the app, you can go to the Google Play Store or the Apple Apps Store and search for Renovate Conference. You can download a copy of this presentation or subscribe to the Church Revitalizer Weekly Blog from Tom Cheyney.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! The restart based church revitalization model is being used all across North America. Any group planting churches or working in the area of church revitalization, should have a restart strategy if it is going to be a wise steward.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! I never sought to write a step-by-step process for doing a church restart. Yet, so many have used this material over the last twenty years that it has become such a process. Sometimes I get kind notes of encouragement thanking me for the bold stance and unwavering advice offered within this strategy. A few times I have been ripped apart by those not brave enough to consider such drastic steps to move their local church towards a new expression of health and vitality!
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! The idea of a church that is dying taking the necessary steps to provide it the best chance for survival is not an easy idea to consider. For those who have been part of the setback, admitting that they have hurt the church is hard indeed. Those who will take over also have a challenge in that it will be under their watch that they seek to change those traits, now embedded in the local church, for the betterment and opportunity to turn around a church that is in rapid decline.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! It is amazing to me today that many individuals that attend a dying church see nothing wrong biblically with allowing their church to die along with them. It is as if there is a secret message, which reads: “The last one alive, remember to turn the lights out!” Humorous? Possibly! Tragic for sure because the local church is the very thing which Christ Jesus gave His life and yet we treat His local church with such irreverence that it is no wonder churches are dying all across the world.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! This Restart Strategy is a vital piece for anyone working in church revitalization efforts and for those who possibly lead church planting efforts. If the two disciplines could join forces at this point perhaps it will be the local church that wins. Change is going to happen within the small rapidly declining church and this strategy offers an opportunity for a turnaround that is working, has been working for decades, and needs to be reconsidered in light of the advancing decline and plateauing of our churches today.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! This strategy is a journey of hope for the local struggling church, which is facing hard decisions in light of its future and what it will do to insure a Gospel lighthouse to remain in the community it was placed for many more years until Jesus comes to take all of us to Glory. Take the journey with those in your area, which are working to revitalize churches for the sake of Christ. Become willing to embrace the opportunity for your church to survive rather than close down in failure. Allow the Lord God to bring forth a miracle for your church as He transforms the work of ministry within your midst. Pray that the Lord will rise up a group of committed new leaders with the energy to work and turn your church around. Ask God to bring new families into your worship center that have never heard the gospel message and are now drawn to hear the glorious message of salvation in Christ Jesus. Seek transformation not stagnation. Ask the Lord to transform your church, each one of you as individual worshippers and Christ followers. Watch how God will transform your individual families and bring a new expression of “church” right where you live.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! Not Every Church is a Candidate for a Restart Interestingly, many laymen often ask me if I think that their church could be a candidate for a restart. Usually they share of the need for their church to be revitalized. A serious of questions frequently follows of which I will answer each and every single one of them. Once they wear out in asking questions I ask one. That question is: “How willing are you and your lay leadership willing to let go of the controls of the church for the next three years and allow someone else to make the decisions necessary to restart your church?” One of two things happens at this point.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! No Need to Bleed The first response is that the individual and his co-leaders see no need to make such a drastic decision. There is no real need to make those necessary decisions that will stop the bleeding of the exodus. After all they have been leading the church for over twenty years and see no reason to make this change despite the decline they are facing. Failure to admit ones weakness and need for a restart is often the initial response. Their emphasis on former glories over present or future glories is a key to the polarization and stuckness they face.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! As a layperson, you have more to do with the church in its present state then you often take credit. Whether the congregation in which you belong is thriving or declining, it is ultimately up to you and your fellow members and because of you and your fellow members. Pastors are called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry and they can teach, inspire, train, lead, and inspire! But when the rubber meets the road, your church’s health is a function of how you and your fellow members relate to one another, to the community in which the church is located, and to how they respond to God’s leading within their lives. John 10:10 reminds us that Jesus said, “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” We need to be reminded that as laymen we are the church!
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! When a local Church is spiritually journeying as a vibrant Church: • Church members willingly work together! • The community finds hope from the church! • There is a sense of belonging and togetherness! • Members easily and frequently forgive others! • The laity find their individual and corporate sense of purpose! • God’s leading and direction is apparent to everyone!
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! Is There a Guide to Stop the Slide? The other response is less common and that is when the leader asks how this could happen and who would assist them in considering such an option. The question was once asked this way, “Pastor is there a guide we can follow in order to stop the slide we are facing?” Some laymen desire to stop the near death throws of their dying church and take the drastic steps necessary to help it become healthy and vibrant once more. They are more concerned about the future needs by allowing the Lord to bring about a resurrection of life the way God wants over what man has become comfortable in.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! The church dying or in rapid decline must face the hard realities and wrestle with the biblical passages dealing with reinvention, realignment, and restarting. Scriptures speak of the message of death and resurrection and for rapidly declining churches it is a testament that God can bring life out of something that was once dead. You do not begin in the Bible with new life. You begin with life, death, and being raised in newness of life. Rapidly declining churches often want to skip the journey and jump right to newness of life. Jesus is a fitting example of not missing the process necessary to embrace newness of life.
Ten Reasons Churches are Challenged When Making the Necessary Changes There is a guide to stop the slide and it is found in the Bible. This material is about helping those ninety plus percent of churches that are in need of church revitalization and renewal. When a church has allowed a deep state of slumber to creep into the work and ministry of the local church, it is challenging to make the necessary changes necessary for revitalization. Here are ten reasons:
Ten Reasons Churches are Challenged When Making the Necessary Changes Here are ten reasons: • All around us the world has changed but the local church has lagged behind these changes and fallen far behind. • Our world is growing every day and the local church in decline is purging itself at an alarming pace. • The world embraces the young, but in declining churches the young are feared. • The younger generations are returning to church, but the rapidly declining church sits on the cliff of fatality refusing to change to embrace this new church attender.
Ten Reasons Churches are Challenged When Making the Necessary Changes Here are ten reasons: • In the rapidly declining church there is a void of individuals in the populace. The young are in minute numbers, the middle age worker is absent, young families are few, and the late middle age and older individual are many. • Older members are in disgust about what younger people want in worship while the younger individual looks at the older as irrelevant. • The rapidly declining church is unable to keep up numerically, financially, spiritually, and physically.
Ten Reasons Churches are Challenged When Making the Necessary Changes Here are ten reasons: • The local expression of church has allowed deadness, un-resuscitated, lifeless form to exist without an attempt to turn the expression around. • Disciple making has become a thing of the past while gathering together for socializing has replaced the idea of growing deeper and more spiritual Christ followers. • The world sees a need for change in the local church, yet those within have become so comfortable that they miss the need of the lost world for it to remain relevant.
What Does Church Revitalization Mean? Every place I go people ask me for a definition of church revitalization. Here is one I have used for at least the last ten years: • Church Revitalization is a movement within protestant evangelicalism, which emphasizes the missional work of turning a plateau or rapidly declining church around and moving it back towards growth. It is lead through a Church Revitalization Initiative, which is when a local church begins to work on the renewal of the church with a concerted effort to see the ministry revitalized and the church become healthy. Church Revitalization means that the local church knew how, at one time previously, to renew, revitalize, and re- establish the health and vitality of the ministry. One of the challenges for the laity in the day in which we live is that they have lost the knowledge of church renewal and no longer want to cultivate the skill sets necessary to see their church experience revitalization. Even sadder is when a congregation does not have the corporate memory that there was a day when the local church was reaching people for Christ Jesus and active as evangelistic witnesses into their community.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! When we are talking about a true “church revitalization restart," I am not referring to the typical small, struggling church that finds fresh life and growth, nor am I looking at mergers or relocation of existing churches. A church that is a candidate for a church revitalization restart has already sought advice from the local association leader or district leader about disbanding or is almost ready to disbanded. The church has dwindled down to about twenty or thirty survivors who are too tired to continue on. They no longer possess the critical mass necessary to get the church healthy once more. The leadership, which remains, are too tired, too ineffective, and too small in numbers to bring about the changes it will take to make the turn. Those left are at the end of their rope and often want to make decisions that are unwise or lack any chance of success.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! Some Church Revitalization Restart Stories: A Coastal Savannah Church The Church at Oak Level Lockhart Church in Orlando Grace Journey Community Church The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina Los Angeles Suburbs Church
Regardless of the Terminology a Restart is a Restart! Some church revitalization restart terms: Repotting Resurrection Restore Realignment Restoration Rebirth
Principles for Considering a Church Revitalization Restart Strategy In talking to restart pastors and denominational leaders across the country, these fifteen principles come up again and again:
Principles for Considering a Church Revitalization Restart Strategy Rejoice and Honor the Former Church's History. The Restart Strategy Works Best when a Church Revitalization Transition Committee is Made Up of Those Outside the Existing Church. Consider if There is Still Potential for Success in the Former Church’s Setting! To Use this Model it is Critical that a Church Revitalization Restart Contract Be Developed Between the Old Church and the New Restart.
Principles for Considering a Church Revitalization Restart Strategy Empower the Church Revitalization Transisition Team to Make all Decisions from the Beginning. Research the Declining Church’s Ministry Area for What Type of New Work will have the Greatest Chance for Survival. Close the Doors of the Church for a Time. Begin Seeking God for a Church Revitalizer for the New Restart.
Principles for Considering a Church Revitalization Restart Strategy Change the Church's Name and Give it a New Identity. Transfer Control from Local Church Power Brokers to a Steering Committee of Mostly Outsiders! Develop a Fresh Vision for the Community. Begin Outreach Activities and New Church Core Group Development.
Principles for Considering a Church Revitalization Restart Strategy Call a New Church Pastor with Energy and Faith. Start Countdown to New Church Restart Launch and Grand Opening! When you Launch, Reach Forward, Draw a Line in the Sand, and do not Look Back.
What Kind of Church is a Good Candidate for Revitalization Using the Restart Strategy? There are some churches with a better chance of living again through a restart. Five types are most often found: • *The Church has no debt and few bills • *The Church is still in a strategic location for a work • *The Church, if it is not the first two, you might want to sell property and use the money through the local association to fund a new church plant. • *The Church, if it sells the building, you might offer it at a reduced rate to a new church plant so both sides win and Jesus is honored. • *The Church might be used for a new group of people previously not ministered too.
Final Church Revitalization Restart Observations The desire to see the church grow once again is not the main reason churches seek assistance in church renewal! The main reason is that they fear the church is dying, near death, or the members have waited too long to do something about it! A reduction in the church’s ability to offer ministries usually prompts its desire for a church revitalization restart. The desire to avoid the deathblow of a church compels many congregations to consider church revitalization efforts! Yet, most laity find it hard to allow someone to assist them and reveal the very things that caused their decline.
A Church Revitalization Lesson When a local church refuses to trade its fear of closing the door for a desire to see life come back within the congregation, the church revitalization experience will end promptly as soon as the danger of death has been eliminated. What happens next may mean another recycle of decline until it is bad again. Churches only experience renewal when their people experience renewal! Unless a church’s leadership wants renewal, it will not happen. There must be a commitment to lead the church towards revitalization. If not, nothing will be changed. Church renewal must shift from a few being interested to eventually a full effort of the entire congregation. Revitalization is not a secret journey but a public one.
When a Restart Strategy is Your Only HOPE in Revitalization! When a church is more interested in self- conservation, it develops a barrier towards the community it is called to serve, which declares our needs are more important than your needs. Many a church is not interested in serving it’s community until it is in trouble and then it is done for survival reasons. People will see right through this approach and feel cheapened.
Key Paths for the Local Church A key factor in congregational decline is the failure to introduce new members to disciple making and equip them in the disciple- making mission of the church. Observe a few key paths for the local church seeking revitalization and renewal: • Place a larger emphasis on Disciple making! • Show your faith in and to your community (Acts 2:42)! • Share your life within the community (2 Cor. 8:3-5)! • Remember the church is people and they are the key to renewal (1 Thess. 2:8)!
Key Paths for the Local Church A key factor in congregational decline is the failure to introduce new members to disciple making and equip them in the disciple- making mission of the church. Observe a few key paths for the local church seeking revitalization and renewal: • Equip others for the harvest field. • Develop new leaders for leadership! • Move past self-preservation to self-sacrifice for the cause of Christ! • Avoid copying others renewal efforts and begin listening, discerning, and responding to the Lord’s leading. • Develop ways for the laity to give themselves to others.
Key Paths for the Local Church A key factor in congregational decline is the failure to introduce new members to disciple making and equip them in the disciple- making mission of the church. Observe a few key paths for the local church seeking revitalization and renewal: • The church must face the current realities of its ministry. Truth is not an enemy of the new. • Discover what has changed around your ministry area during the last 20 years. Most churches do not know. • Help your people dream a little about what could be. • Do not wait too long to begin to revitalize your church. • Understand that there is a huge cost involved in church revitalization and it will take a combined effort of laity and ministers to see renewal come to fruition.
Items to Be Addressed in Renewal You must have a “begin the journey point in time” with church revitaliztion. It is easier to go to meetings and talk about church revitalization than to begin working in church revitalization. If you are not careful the task force can spend more time talking about what “we are going to do” than getting to doing it.
Items to Be Addressed in Renewal The Church must begin to address some key issues for revitalization: • The need for new initiatives (new avenues)! • The need for new entrance points into the church! • The updating of present ministries and programs! • How the church will care for its new and present participants! • The long-term development of disciples!
Items to Be Addressed in Renewal • The present and future staff equipping! • How the laity will be matured in the faith and enlisted in the work of the ministry. • The examination of any areas of work that are becoming dead weight to renewal efforts. • How to let go of ministries, which are no longer serving the church. • Remember groups leading ministries, which are left on their own, will usually justify the plans that long-time members have invested in regardless of their outcome for growth.
Ideas for the Closing Service Use those who have been there the longest. Consider using some type of candle ceremony asking the oldest (length of membership) members to light a candle then working down to the newest. This is a very significant way to symbolize that their ministry meant something and that they were appreciated. Conclude the worship service with great hymns of faith and the Lord’s Supper. Then move into a period of “Starting Something New” led by the local Association Director of Missions.
Ideas for the Closing Service Such a service is not easy to develop and it takes much thought before that final day of worship. Even your weakest unattached church member will find that they have memories of the former church. Questions the weeks before that allow those members of the church that is closing to vocalize their feelings will be helpful. Some questions you might want to utilize might be:
Ideas for the Closing Service • What are your personal memories of the ministries from this church? • Is there something harder about letting go than you had expected? • What individual recollections would you share with fellow members during these final days? • In your view what were some of the most historical events that were part of our church’s life timeline?
Ideas for the Closing Service • What were the significant events that took place in the lives of the children of the church? • How were the youth impacted within the community through this church? • During each pastor’s tenure what were the significant events, which took place? • What were the ministries that impacted the women of the church most? • How were the men impacted though the church?
Ideas for the initial restart service When a church revitalization restart launches its first initial service, it is vital that new direction and tempo is set. If this is the former declining church with a new hip name you will be in trouble from the start. This is a time for the church revitalizer to share a new and compelling vision for the restart that is very different from the former rapidly declining church. During the great day of vision it is wise for the new church to ask for members to join the church as founding members and prepare to go though a new members class as an initial step towards commitment and membership. This is a way for those, which were in the former church whom decide that this new restart is for them to join right away. For those stakeholders who are not so sure once the first month of joining is over they would need to join the church in accordance with the policies set forth by the new church.
Ideas for the initial restart service As the Church Revitalizer gives the restart participants constant hope, your compassion for the former church members, which join with you and your passion for the vision God has given, will be reassuring during the launch season for the restart. You as the leader must be the provider of hope in a church revitalization restart.
What is HOPE? Hope defined by Webster’s II New College Dictionary, is “to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment.” Hope means the confidence to trust in your actions and reactions. There is a desire connected with hope to see something good come about as a result of ones efforts. One of the most powerful, energizing words in the English language is the word “hope.” It’s a power that energizes us with exhilaration and purpose, as we look onward to the future. Hope takes our everyday obstacles and converts them into opportunities. Hope gives us motivation to live. Hope is a muscle that keeps us moving in the hardest stages of life.
What is HOPE? Hope is the Ultimate Talent of a Church Revitalizer! Hope is the Winning Difference Between Turning a Church Around and Letting it Die! The Church Revitalizer is the One Responsible for Providing Hope.
How Does a Church Revitalizer Offer Hope to Others? • HelpYour Restart Change Their Way of Seeing and Thinking.
How Does a Church Revitalizer Offer Hope to Others? • OfferSafety and Reassurance During Periods of Doubt.
How Does a Church Revitalizer Offer Hope to Others? • Put Some Wins Under Their Belt.