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  • Gary Maxey

Church revitalization



PLYMOUTH – Church Revitalization is the process of leading a plateaued or declining church toward a healthy growth, which begins when church leaders and church members come to the realization that the church is not healthy. Therefore, to begin church revitalization, it is important that we have a clear understanding of what a healthy church is and have an honest examination of our church.


So why do we begin our discussion with the topic of the health of the church? Simply because most churches today do not realize that they are unhealthy. What we have found in the churches today is only 10% are healthy, 40% demonstrate symptoms of being sick, 40% are very sick, and 10% are dying. Therefore, it is critical to discuss and understand what a healthy church looks like.


What is a healthy church? What is the purpose of the church? Is a healthy church always expanding numerically? These are all good questions, and there are several church growth principles that attempt to answer these questions. However, very few growth principles identify the need for a theological foundation, which I believe is essential for a healthy church. The model below developed by Dr. Chuck Lawless, a seminary professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary addresses the need for a strong theological foundation.



The model is built with the goal in mind to make disciples, and contains three areas of focus: Theological Foundation, 6 Purposes of a Church and Application:


Theological Foundation


A healthy church must first have a theological foundation based on knowing God and who they are individually and corporately in Christ. This theological foundation is non-negotiable, and it is important that the foundation be biblically and theologically sound. Dr. Lawless’ approach is built on the first three chapters of Ephesians where Paul provides a strong theological foundation on which we should build our church.


The problem exists when churches think that simply just teaching the Word somehow produces congregations with an orthodox theology. Unfortunately, this is a false assumption, and cannot be further from reality. To have a strong theological foundation it takes deliberate and intentional strategy on teaching theology and doctrine in our churches.


6 Pillars of a Church


The pillars represent the purposes of the church as described in the scriptures: great commission (Matt 28), the great commandment (Matt 22), and the portrayal of the early church (Acts 2). The 6 pillars are:


  1. Exalt God through worship (Matthew 22:36-37 Acts 2:43,47)

  2. Evangelize the world through proclamation and missions (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:41,47)

  3. Equip believers through teaching and mentoring (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:42)

  4. Edify others through ministry and service (Matthew 22:39, Acts 2:44-45)

  5. Encounter God through prayer (Acts 2:42)

  6. Encourage one another through fellowship (Acts 2:42,46)


Application


Now we move to the rooftop which is the Application. This is built on the final 3 chapters of Ephesians where the emphasis shifts from the first three chapters of Ephesians which is focused on theology to the evidence of our faith. Here we find Paul focusing on the believers walk “In the manner worthy of our calling”


This evidence of our faith is essential because who we are in Christ must affect every area of our life. Therefore, the Application identifies 4 areas of faith: our personal walk (Eph 4:1-6:9) at home (5:22-6:4), church (4:2-5:21) and workplace (6:5-9).


As we began our discussion on Church Revitalization, we find it begins with the examination of the health of the church. As we look upon the model presented by Dr. Lawless and examine the church we need to ask these 4 critical questions:


  • Are we intentionally teaching sound doctrine and theology?

  • Are we living out the 6 purposes of the Church?

  • Are we applying the gospel to all areas of our lives?

  • At the cross are we preaching Christ – the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascending, and Coming Again?


The answers to these questions will help you determine on a scale of 1 to 10 where your church health is today.

 

To have further discussion on church health and revitalization feel free to reach out to gary@bscm.org


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary is a Church Revitalization Coach and Consultant for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan, with 35+ years of experience working for companies like EDS and IBM as a director working closely with organizations worldwide to enable the execution of strategic initiatives. He has served in a variety of positions with Youth for Christ International, involved in teaching ministries for several churches, and a church elder. He received Certificates in Biblical Studies and Theology, New Testament, and Christian Apologetics from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Gary is married to his wife Odena for over 39 years and has two children and seven grandchildren.




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