Understanding God’s Heart for Church Revitalization and Replanting: Conviction #2
When considering this topic of God’s heart for replanting, I believe there are four biblical convictions that are critical for us to hold. Let's consider conviction #2 in this blog post.
Conviction #2: God not only has the desire, but He has the power to bring dying and declining churches back to life for His glory.
I hope you believe this. When it comes to replanting dying churches, God isn’t sitting there going, “Oh boy I sure wish that kind of thing could happen, but I really don’t have the power to do anything about it.” No, the Lord is all powerful. He is the sovereign King of the universe. He not only has the desire but the power to bring anything that is dead back to life and vibrancy. This includes a local church. Again, we have a God who only desires to see declining churches come back to life, He has the power to make it happen.
One of the chapters I want to turn your attention to in this regard is Ezekiel 37, which is a great picture of the Lord bringing something dead back to life. The picture is Jerusalem and the temple have been destroyed. Judgment has come. But God reveals Himself in this passage as a God of revitalization, as a God of resurrection.
In Ezekiel 37:1-6 we read this,
1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." 4 Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD."
This is a picture of God bringing something dead back to life. Only our God can do something as powerful and miraculous as this! Bringing dead, dry bones back to life. He does this very thing with us as individuals and He does it with churches. There are two things that I want to point out from this passage, two essential ingredients for revitalization in the church that I think we see in this passage. The first one is this:
Ingredient#1: The faithful preaching of God's Word is essential to God-honoring replanting and true church revitalization.
Bill Henard in his excellent book, Can These Dry Bones Live, writes,
The first requirement necessitates the preaching of God’s Word. God tells Ezekiel, “Prophesy concerning those bones” (37:4). As Ezekiel obeys, the Scripture unveils this magnificent vision of bones taking on tendons and flesh. Note carefully that the bones described are dry bones. These soldiers who died in battle were not afforded the privilege of a proper burial. They experienced the great disgrace of open decay. Yet God intervenes, and Ezekiel speaks to the bones.
What an image! What an image when we think about church revitalization and replanting. The preaching and teaching of God’s Word brings dry bones and dry souls and dry churches back to life. It does. The Word of God has power. It is living and active as we preach the Word and as we counsel with the Word and as we share the Word with folks over coffee and over meals. The Word of God brings dry, dead bones back to life.
Ingredient #2: The presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
The second ingredient for revitalization that we see here in this passage is the presence and power of God’s Spirit. Again Henard writes,
In order for the church to be revived, to be revitalized, to experience new life, new health, new growth, it will demand a mighty work of God’s spirit. Following a particular methodology or program does not guarantee success. One might greatly desire for the church to revitalize and grow, but genuine church growth calls for more than personal passion. It requires the Spirit of God.
That is the truth. We can read all the books we want. We can come up with the most dynamic, exciting, fresh and compelling strategies the world of church revitalization and church replanting has ever seen, but without the Spirit of God moving, dead bones don’t come back to life. They just don’t. Church revitalization and replanting begins with laying the foundation of God’s Word as it is preached and the congregation empowered by a profound movement of God’s Spirit.
 Henard, Can These Dry Bones Live