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Best Practices for Church Revitalization

By Rachel Gilmore

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Some annual conferences wonder if they should put all their energy into starting new churches instead of revitalizing existing churches. With an estimated seventy percent of churches in the United States stagnant or in decline, we need to have a plan to help existing churches that are struggling. So how do we help those churches? What resources or tools are annual conferences in The United Methodist Church using to help revitalize existing churches? What follows are a few examples.

Peggy Hisey from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference has found Tony Morgan’s work on the life cycle of churches to be a great tool. Click here to see Morgan’s free online assessment. You can also do an onsite Unstuck process or have an online training for smaller or rural churches with the same company.

Kay Kotan, a church developer in Arkansas, reminds us that sometimes we have to slow down the decline in the church before we can move to the addition or multiplication stage. Often, a church has been picking up momentum in its downward decline for a period of time. That downward momentum has to stop before the church can move in the other direction.

Kotan is a great resource, especially for churches seeking to change their governance model аs part of the revitalization process.

Often, a church has been picking up momentum in its downward decline for a period of time. That downward momentum has to stop before the church can move in the other direction.

Gary Step from the Michigan Conference is using the Church Unique process by Will Mancini, which helps churches build a mission statement with values, measures, and strategies for how to form a discipleship frame followed by the “god dreams” of where the church wants to go as members move beyond the walls of the church. More information about Church Unique is available at the website, churchunique.com.

The Michigan Annual Conference recently held its REACH Summit, October 18-19, as a learning and networking event designed to spark creativity and inspire leaders. It offered network groups that will continue to meet throughout the year on topics such as racial reconciliation, children’s ministry, leadership training, and young clergy. Click here for more information on the network groups.

Additional Resources

Books

Spiritual Leadership by Thomas Bandy (Abingdon Press, 2016)

Who Stole my Church by Gordon MacDonald (Thomas Nelson, 2010)

Small Church Checkup by Kay Kotan and Phil Shroeder (Discipleship Resources, 2018)

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (Zondervan, 2017)

Mission Possible: A Simple Structure for Missional Effectiveness by Kay Kotan and Blake Bradford (Market Square Publishing, 2019)

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