Options For a Struggling Church

This article is written specifically to churches that find themselves in the unenviable position of decline and / or stagnation.

What is a church in this position to do?

The First Option We will Discuss is


Revitalization is the process of recovering a church from a struggling and ineffective ministry, that has plateaued or is declining, to a vibrant ministry that impacts its community and world for the glory of God.

The first thing you must realize is that you are not alone. Did you know that most churches in America stand in need of Revitalization!

Revitalization can be described as renewal in the context of:

Pastor + Existing People + Old Structure + History

Let's consider each one of these, in turn


If a church does not have a pastor, then it is obvious that it needs one! Finding the RIGHT pastor becomes imperative! As I have observed so often down through the years, there are many churches (which actually need revitalization) which have fallen into the mold of "starter churches. " These are churches where a young preacher, with a heart full of vision, but a head full of mush, can learn in the school of "hard knocks!"


After a few years of abuse he leaves with his tail between his legs to go and nurse his wounds, wondering if he will ever pastor again. These churches are churches that God has either long since removed their candlestick or spewed them out of his mouth. One church would not be wise to engage. The other still has hope of revitalization. Do you know which one?

If a church has had a Long-term pastor, then this next statement is an inconvenient truth, but it must be given. Many times, but not always, a church that stands in need of revitalization (and truly wants it) needs a new pastor. A church must be very prayerful about this matter. Both current pastor (if the church has one) and people must seek the Lord intensely about this matter. The current pastor may be used of the Lord to revive the church, but this is more the exception than the rule.

This also needs to be stated. A church must be very careful not to fall into the "perfect pastor trap." A church that stands in need of revitalization will often "hire" and "fire" many pastors seeking that "perfect pastor" that will lead them out of the wilderness.


May I say to to you that there are no perfect pastors....just like there are no perfect church members! Revitalization is a mutual commitment of both pastor and people to work toward the goal of a healthy church!


To the Aspiring Revitalization Pastor

(This information will also help churches looking for a pastor)

If God is calling you to pastor a church that needs revitalization, you must be absolutely sure that this is what God is leading you to do. The challenges, and sacrifices, to both you and your family will be large. Entering into a revitalization work lightly is not recommended. You must make sure that your family is on board and is prepared for the challenge.

You must know as fully as possible what you are getting into. Many pastors, with good and noble intentions, take a struggling church, just thinking all it needs is a little "tweaking." A church that is in the final stages of its current lifecycle needs much more than "tweaking."

Consider the difference to be the difference between putting a bandaid on a scraped knee versus being life-flighted to an advanced treatment hospital for intensive care, that was not available where you were, for a disease process that will take your life if not successfully managed.

Your evaluation of this potential church involves asking lots of pointed, hard questions of the church and her current influencers. Questions must be asked, not just about the present shape of the church but also its past. Leave no stone unturned.