“I’m just not convinced that replanting churches is a good way to go. I’ve just seen so many churches that say they want to get healthy but when it comes down to it, they’re not willing to what it really takes to get there. I mean, come on Mark, do you really believe replanting churches is a wise use of time, money, and other resources? Wouldn’t it be more effective to just let these dying churches die?”
This was a conversation I had recently with a pastor friend of mine over coffee. I wish I could say this conversation was the only one of its kind, but the truth is, I hear these concerns regularly from pastors and church leaders all over the country. Is my friend right? Is this replanting thing a waste of time? Is it worth all of the sacrificial energy and resources and prayer we put into it? Are we just being unwise here? Is it better to just let these churches die? These are good questions and deserve thoughtful answers.
Over the next few weeks I want to share some of my thoughts on this by offering seven reasons why I believe my friend, whom I dearly love, is wrong. These are seven reasons why I believe it is absolutely critical that we as the church of Jesus Christ begin to actively and intentionally pursue the replanting and revitalization of dying churches in our communities.
Reason #1: God’s people in dying churches need encouragement, nourishment and fresh vision.
First of all, dying churches need encouragement. Typically, when you step inside a dying church you will quickly see folks who are tired! They’re exhausted. They’ve probably lost passion and zeal. It’s not that they desire to be dis-passionate about the Lord, the church, and the lost. It’s just that they’ve been going so hard for so long that they’re worn out. It’s been a very difficult season for that church and most likely the season has been a long one. This church needs encouragement. Lots of loving encouragement.
Secondly, dying churches need nourishment. God’s people, His sheep, need nourishment. Sheep rely on receiving healthy food from a good shepherd who preaches and teaches the Word of God. Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ words to Peter in John 21:15, which says, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’” It’s the responsibility of a replanting pastor to feed to flock of God good food for the renewing of their hearts and the renewing of their minds that they might move out on mission in their community with joy and strength in the Lord. This is why raising up and training faithful replanting pastors is so critical to seeing churches replanted in a healthy, biblical way. As we read in Jeremiah 3:15, “The Lord declares, I will give you shepherds after my own heart who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” Dying congregations need replanting pastors who can shepherd them well, feeding them, nourishing them with the food of God’s Word.
Thirdly, dying churches need fresh vision. Many times these churches have lost vision. As a result, they have lost hope and passion for what the Lord can do in and through their congregation. They need fresh vision. They need new hope. They need to be loved and led in such a way that they begin to believe that God isn’t done with their church. More than that, they need to believe that God is just getting started with what He wants to do in and through them for His purposes!