For the past three decades "church growth"
has been the focus of many American churches. All this emphasis
on size, numbers and programs has been to no avail, for every year thousands
of churches in our land close
their doors. In fact, in any given year the American church closes more
churches than it starts! We are learning the hard way that church health
must precede church growth. Only healthy churches manifest
well-balanced, long-term and scriptural growth. Church health is based
upon God's precepts, principles
and patterns in the New Testament.
The Scripture presents a paradigm of moving from spiritual decline
and functional malaise to
Spirit-engendered vitality: the Church at Ephesus. God's instructions
to that church serve as a
curriculum outline for Church Revitalization: "Remember therefore
from where you have fallen,
and repent and do the deeds you did at first..." (Rev. 2:5) That
is the three-fold paradigm:
Remember...Repent... Recover the first things.
Church revitalization or renewal is nothing more than following
God's prescription for church health. It
is a process by which we work at reformation, lead for revitalization
and pray for revival. Church
revitalization is the sovereign work of God's Spirit whereby He restores
His people to spiritual and
functional vitality that inevitably leads to statistical growth in conversions
and scriptural discipleship
for His own glory and our own good.
The biblical paradigm of revitalization is that local churches must
return to "first things" and regain
their "first love" by again taking the "first steps."