There’s more here than you might expect. That was true for me. I’ve been hearing the argument for church revitalization for years, and it has always sounded like a conversation about practical matters. There are practical reasons to sometimes plant a new church. And there are practical reasons to sometimes revitalize an old church.
But reading through the articles for this edition of the eJournal, I discovered something larger, something older, something more basic. Church revitalization, it occurred to me, goes to the very heart of what it means to pastor. And the desire to see churches revitalized, I dare say, should be a constituent part of a Christian’s heart. Could it be that we’ve been missing something as basic as evangelism and discipleship, even if it’s rarer?
Church planting is a great thing, and there’s no need to take anything away from it. But there should also be a default setting in a Christian’s heart that always longs to see dying churches revitalized. It’s not like the debate in your head about whether to fork over $2000 to the mechanic to fix your clunker of a car or to just buy a new one. It’s more like a decision about whether to walk away from a dear but difficult relationship. Our hearts should never want to do that, even if once in a great while we must.
Start with Andy Davis’ remarkable story of reforming one church, and you’ll find something that feels strangely like it’s from the Bible, as if Andy were only doing what the apostles did. Then let the biblical burden of Bobby Jamieson’s article sit on you. I’m serious. You just might find some new light bulbs turning on. Matt Schmucker’s and Mike McKinley’s articles then round out the apologetic by offering crisp statements for why churches and pastors should pursue the work of revitalizing.
If you are a pastor, keep reading into the next section, where Jeramie Rinne, Greg Gilbert, John Folmar, J. D. Greear, and Brian Croft offer valuable and practical wisdom on how to proceed with the work of reform.
Could it be that church revitalization does not loom as large in the modern evangelical mindset as it did in Jesus’ and the apostles’? Before you answer that question, if nothing else, read Bobby’s article. You just might wonder if we’ve missed something basic.
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