In a blog I was recently reading I came across this question, “If your church were to close tomorrow, would it be missed by the community”? It’s a confronting question—at least for the Minister! How would you answer this question?
Our location in West Tamworth on a hill is a prime position. One of the comments from talking to people at the recent garage sale was our wonderful view over town. It is something we might able to utilise next year as a means of connecting with the local community. Our building also has lots of space and it would be interesting to explore how it might be further used by those around us.
We cannot share the gospel in a community we do not know.
Churches that aren’t willing to embrace positive change die. I’m convinced that changes we have already made are a sign that the gospel is gripping us in ways not seen in recent years. The gospel calls us to have a DNA and attitudes that are outwardly focused and always Christ-centred. Church revitalisation is the process of turning decline into steady and healthy growth. We need people of all ages in our church. I long to see a thriving kid’s church and a teenage ministry. I long to see young families coming again.
Gospel growth is a gift from God. However, the Lord calls us to work in partnership with him. As Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor 3:6-7).
Healthy churches truly believe in the power of the gospel. Belief leads to decisive action. We must share the gospel and reply upon God to draw people into his kingdom. Healthy churches talk about Jesus because he informs our theology and actions. The gospel is not a garbled, hollow message. For thousands of years the Lord has given people life and rescued them us from the outpouring of God’s anger.
Healthy churches have courageous leaders. They have elders who boldly protect and shepherd the flock entrusted to them. Strong leadership guards against false teaching and allows the word of God to inform every decision. Godly leadership stands up to people who resist the gospel and godly leadership teaches sound doctrine (Tit 2.1). I cannot think of one example in the Bible where the church has flourished with weak and unsound leadership.
Healthy churches are not nostalgic. They gives thanks for the past, learn from the past, but are not committed to living in the past. Cultural norms change and we must be prepared to understand how to reach people in a fast paced, rapidly changing world. We risk becoming irrelevant if the traditions of the 1970s remain the traditions of 2020.
Healthy churches have a firm grip on reality. They face up to situations and deal with issues as they arise. Healthy churches do not pretend to be healthy when they are not. They don’t turn a blind eye to misdeeds or ignore emerging problems but deal with them in a godly way.
I’m really excited about where God may be leading us. God has put us in West Tamworth and in our little patch of turf let us continue to be faithful to him.
Based on When Do You Declare a Revitalization a Success? by Thom Rainer 7 March 2019