6 Strategies to Revitalize a Struggling Church
Where do you start when you don’t know where to start?
If you see a need for new life in your church, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 6 things you can start doing right away to change your church culture and get started on the path toward healthy church growth:
1. Network with other thriving churches.
Though it’s not quite the same, think of this strategy as seeking mentorship. As an individual looking for guidance, motivation, and inspiration in your personal walk with Christ, it would be natural to seek out a mentor––someone who could disciple you.
As a church looking for guidance, motivation, and inspiration, you should seek out a church that is the picture of what you want to become. Find opportunities to attend or watch their Sunday services. Look for like-minded churches with reputable leadership, consistent attendance, sustained growth, and good standing in the local community.
Reach out to pastors near you and meet with them; build a network of men who you can dialogue with regularly to discuss church needs, ministry partnerships, and other opportunities to support one another. Remember that this isn’t a one-sided conversation. Try to bring value to them and the discussion, instead of only complaining about how tough things are.
With the pastor-to-pastor connection as a foundation, you can facilitate networking between congregations. Host the other pastors as guest speakers, and offer to fill their pulpit as needed. Organize fun events or community ministry trips between groups and encourage volunteering between congregations, requesting and sending volunteers where needed.
2. Solidify theological stances and statements.
While this is straightforward, it still needs to be said. A church cannot stand united and grow if it does not have a clear foundation on which to build.
Your church doesn’t need to reconsider what it believes – but you need to make sure your statement of faith is abundantly clear, posted on your website, and talked about often.
Newcomers and existing members of the church need to know what your church believes if they are going to believe in the mission of your church. Do not grow weary of reminding your congregation what you believe and Who you serve.
3. Retire ministries
To get out of a rut, sometimes you need to yank the steering wheel.
When you are on a path that you don’t want to be on, you’re going to need to make decisions that may at first be unpopular or seem out of alignment with what your church has always prioritized.
Too many ministries create clutter, cause disorganization, fill schedules to the brim, deplete resources, and drain church members physically, spiritually, emotionally, or all of the above. Remember the call in Ephesians 5:16 to “make the best use of the time” we’ve been entrusted with.
Prioritize ministries that align with your church mission and have real impact. Appraise each ministry by asking a few questions: Is it still effective? Does it take a lot of time, money, or effort, but produce no results? Would another ministry better address current needs and goals?
4. Begin new or reignite old outreach endeavors.
Once you’ve de-cluttered your lineup of ministries, you have room to focus on your most important church activities. It may be helpful at this point to list out your current ministries and those you’d like to re-start and grade them on two scales––impact and effort.
Anything with high impact and a low effort is a must-do, and anything rated high in both categories should be considered in light of your other obligations. Leave anything rated as low impact on the back-burner until you can justify putting the time into it.
Here are a few ideas for outreach:
- fundraisers for local families, individual needs, or charities
- group counseling
- senior living center visits
- youth or literacy programs
- babysitting nights
- community get-togethers such as meals, small groups, and movie nights
- prayer ministry
- community service or volunteer groups
- men’s or women’s networking breakfasts
But remember, one of the best forms of outreach is one-on-one care and sharing. Remind your congregation to minister to others and share the gospel in their interpersonal interactions and individual service opportunities.
5. Prioritize discipleship and nurture new believers.
Getting visitors in the door is one thing––it’s another to create disciples. Encourage church members to branch out from the people they know and invite visitors. Members should be encouraged often to invite newcomers to sit with them, eat with them, and to extend invitations outside of Sunday services.
Even once visitors are consistently attending, that’s not the end of it. In fact, the work is just beginning. New members and believers need encouragement, involvement in small groups, education in the Word, and interaction with plenty of mature believers.
Train them up in the Word, foster their relationship with Christ and with other members in the church, and treat any visitors they bring the same way you treated them.
6. Set an example.
Building community within the congregation is vital for church health. Starting and supporting active small groups (and properly training small group leaders) is a monumental step toward this goal.
But the best way to engage your congregation is by being an example to them. If a church’s pastor doesn’t interact with members, fails to attend events, or arrives late and leaves early, why would the congregation feel compelled to do anything different?
Foster authentic connection within the church by opening up your life and home. Meet regularly for meals with your congregation and show up with a willing heart when your presence is expected, and especially when you might be needed most––such as funerals, hospital stays, or other life tragedies.
What else can I do to revitalize my church?
You’ve identified the problem, now it’s time to get the support to solve it. Baptist Church Planters specializes in revitalizing churches and creating ministry partnerships. Contact us today to talk about how we can help get you out of this rut and onto the path of healthy church growth.