(Series: 7 Essentials to Church Revitalization)
Gary Becker, (Executive Director, Biblically Balanced Ministries)
All living things have a life cycle. Churches are a living organism. The life cycle of a church depends on the church’s ability to reproduce itself. Only 15% are estimated to be healthy growing churches. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 65% of all churches in the USA are not growing. In addition, 20% of churches are actually in serious decline and facing death. I relate those churches as to being in the ICU and/or on life support.
The seven churches in the book Revelation reveal how quickly a church can go from a vital life giving force to spiraling toward death. The message to the seven churches also gives us hope for the potential revitalization.
The attached diagram is not totally original but more reflects a common understanding.
- BIRTH is the stage of life that is filled with excitement and energy.
- The MISSIONAL stage flows out from the birth. It includes:
- Evangelism flowing from the excitement and people sharing hope.
- Discipleship is an essential part of this stage.
- Vision is what is the driving force of the church.
- The ORGANIZATIONAL stage is a necessity that must keep the mission the most important thing.
- Doctrine becomes a priority and can be a vital part of establishing the mission. But, doctrine can, also, become a form of legalism.
- Leadership is crucial at this stage. If it keeps the focus on the mission it builds a growth culture.
- Planning and strategy should be focused on the vision.
- STABILIZATION naturally flows out of a well organized church. The dangers in this stage are:
- The focus is inward ministering to ourselves.
- The church reaches a plateau.
- The strategy becomes preservation.
- This becomes a critical turning point in the church.
- STAGNATION resulting in a gradual decline and eventually death.
- OR, it can become a time of REVITALIZATION.
- Recognition of lost mission and vision
- Repentance for failures and self interest
- Return to a missional driven focus
- Renew relationships with the Lord
- Rebirth requires a willingness to surrender everything and re-launch.
Take it personally. The church is a community of believers. Thus, we need to look at ourselves to see where we are personally in the life cycle. Remember the church reflects us. The basic question: Is my faith vital and missional or has it become casual, or even worse, stagnant?
Keep following us at balancedministies.org and on Facebook to see how the Seven Churches of Revelation show us essentials for revitalization.