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What keeps a church from revitalizing?

Over the last 5 years or so of church consulting, I have noticed two immutable facts about Baptist churches. (1) All churches say they want to grow. (2) All churches are lying when they say they want to grow. Well, the second part may not be true in all cases. However it is worth noting that their are certainly some barriers in keeping a church from revitalizing to experience the growth and vibrancy that I believe God has for their church. In this post, I'll expose some primary reasons and some secondary causes that keep churches from experiencing their full potential.

Primary Reasons

1. The first barrier keeping churches from revitalization is they refuse to face their current reality. Churches are often times stuck in the past, and don't realize that things around them have changed. The community is different. The "young" people in their church are in their 50's.

2. They Ignore the current reality or explain it away: It's one thing to refuse to face the current reality but its an entirely different animal to explain it away through a series of excuses. Some of the excuses seem legit! "People aren't interested in the Bible any more" "That family is busier, than what they used to be" "It's hard for us to compete against the world"... This mentality often pushes blame on other things than taking responsibility for not engaging better.

3. They have grown accustomed to their condition: Sometimes the condition has been the reality for so long that it is a defining mark on the church. Such churches have been in survival mode for so long that the people don't remember a time when the church was healthy. Maybe deep down the church doesn't want to revitalize because it would require something out of them that they aren't willing to try.

4. They tried, failed so they quit: We I speak about revitalization to some, they can usually point me to a person or a time when the church desired to do something different, their was momentum. But old guard of leaders squashed the ideas, and with it reverted back to familiarity. Maybe the story is of a leader that challenged the status quo, and ended up hurting the church, so now the church is gun shy about attempting anything different.

Secondary Reasons:

1. Founding Families don't want the change: It goes without saying that revitalization work must be and "all in" mentality. Their will be early adopters, and even mid to late. But if the key families are never adopters, revitalization is a tough road. Not impossible but certainly tough.

2. Dysfunctional leadership and systems: Sometimes revitalization is stalled because the organizational leadership doesn't have enough structure to support change. Some churches are over structured and the process is stuck in committees. Some systems are too loose and don't have enough foresight to see the problems before they arise, thus causing a mistrust from congregation.

3. Previous bad pastors and a reaction to abusive leadership: Its sad but often true. Some leaders have been abusive or overly domineering to lay leaders that it has hurt the credibility. Leaders need accountability and the trust of its people if revitalization is going to be achieved.

4. Church fear what they will lose: I believe that people aren't afraid of change, things change all the time, but I do believe that they are scared of what they will lose. They fear if the church changes then they will lose the familiarity that they once knew.

Implementing change is difficult, but its even harder when the church doesn't want to go with you. Stay tuned to my next post that will provide helpful strategies to implement change that the church will be willing to follow.


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