For pastors and churches, revitalization is both difficult and rewarding. For twelve years, God has entrusted to me the challenging and glorious calling of leading churches through the process of revitalization. It is challenging because the work is often long, laborious, and filled with difficulties. But it is glorious because nothing is too hard for the God who raises the dead (Jeremiah 32:17; 2 Corinthians 1:9).
Revitalization is the process by which God moves a spiritually unhealthy church toward biblical vitality. A church needs revitalization when it is plateaued (neither inclining nor declining, but reclining), declining (losing spiritual vitality), dying (in critical condition and near death), or already dead. These are churches that in the past were thriving in making disciples as they humbly depended on God but have since drifted into spiritual lethargy and apathy, which has set them on a path toward death. While 7,000 churches die every year, most recently, Thom Rainer projects that, post-COVID, as many as 15,000 churches will be confronted with the choice of closing.  We must come to terms with the reality that the need for revitalization is both great and urgent.
Through my study of Scripture and after twelve years of pastoral ministry in revitalization contexts, I have developed a process to help churches experience biblical health. That circular and ongoing process is easily remembered in the acronym R-E-L-I-V-E: