Church Revitalization: How & Where to Start

To expect different results, you need to do ministry differently.

God put a passion in my heart for helping organizations get unstuck.

Even from the early days, I’ve had a passion to help churches, specifically existing churches, to get healthy. All of my previous experience—my city manager days, included—has been working with communities and churches to help rebuild what is suffering and declining. I started The Unstuck Group because of this.

I wanted to help leaders and churches find clarity and perspective that resulted in their ability to lead more people to Jesus. We’re 10 years in, and I’m still excited about what God is doing through The Unstuck Group. And, I’m re-energized by our most recent update to the process we use.

Most churches that contact us are on the right side of the life cycle—that is they’re experiencing plateau, decline, and asking a question that I don’t like to hear—

“How do we get unstuck as quickly as possible?”

Understandably, stuck churches want to get unstuck quickly. Honestly, I would be concerned if there was little urgency and excitement to fix what’s broken. But, the results are compromised when the emphasis is on the speed rather than the quality of the approach.

To revitalize your church takes a significant investment—time, energy, resources and laser-focus.

I encourage you to start by answering these 3 key questions:

1. “Why do we exist as a church?”

2. “Where are we going?”

3. “How do we get there?”

When you sit down with your team to answer these questions, it’s vital to not just prayerfully answer them, but to do so in order.

Stuck churches jump to how to do the ministry, discipleship, weekend services, etc., instead of focusing on why we do those things.

If you’ve done the hard work of answering the first two questions, you have to answer the how.

It might sound obvious, but if you want to see change, how you do church in the future has to be different than what you’re doing today. That’s one of the most common things we see—stuck churches continue to do the same thing expecting different results.Subscribe to ChurchLeaders!

Is your church in need of revitalization? It’s no small task. But if I had to suggest a path for getting started, I’d recommend tackling these four things:

1. Turn the Focus From Inward to Outward

One of the key factors that we find in stuck churches is that they are inwardly focused. It’s the natural pull.

This is an extremely important shift—to move from being inwardly focused to becoming outwardly focused. As leaders, we always have to be reminding our congregation and refreshing our strategy to reach those outside the church and outside the faith.

The churches that we’ve seen actually turn toward an outward focus are those that are answering the first two questions addressed earlier, “Why do we exist?” and “Where are we going?” You, the senior leader, have to be intentional about consistently bringing that vision forward.

2. De-Program and Clarify a Discipleship Path

This image shows what I mean. I’ve written about this a lot because this is a theme I’ve seen in healthy, growing churches. The ones experiencing the most healthy growth approach discipleship as a path instead of offering an overwhelming number of programs.

church revitalization

Instead of ministries competing for time, attention and resources, a path simplifies how to lead people to Jesus.  

3. Reduce Ministry Complexity and Refocus Your Team’s Time and Energy…and the “Win”

With events, programs and a lot of meetings, we lose sight of our mission, vision and focus because we’re doing too much doing.

A complex ministry rarely helps people take next steps in discipleship. Complexity also makes your team feel like the “win” is just getting people to show up to meetings or events, instead of seeing real life change.

I suggest reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s not written for church leaders, but try to read it through the lens of ministry strategy. I’ve suggested this to a lot of church leaders I’ve worked with, and I think it can bring strong focus around how you’re functioning as a team and as a church.

4. Shift From More Meetings to More Ministry 

“Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12 NLT

A key indicator that churches are stuck is that people spend more time talking about how to do the ministry rather than doing it. Sitting in meetings won’t lead people to Christ. Equip and empower your lay leadership to be more engaged in the ministry of your church.

We launched our new consulting process late last year, and I’m re-energized by what we’re doing. As you plan what this year looks like for your church, check our updated Unstuck Process. I really believe in what it can do for your church.

This article originally appeared here.

Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He’s written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and

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