The strategic emphasis in most denominational or network circles is on church planting. I suspect that few would disagree with this, as it builds up new church bodies, expands the impact in communities, and reaches larger amounts of individuals. After all some estimate that as many 30-40% of churches don’t survive past the first few years.
Many of the same circles that focus on church planting, however, have given up on the struggling, already-established churches.
I believe that key to the church in America in the future is not only church planting, but also church revitalization. We need both church planting and revitalization. So how do we do this?
I have trained and sent out many church planters after their time preparing at Dallas Seminary. One of the things I’ve noted over the years is that the most successful church planters have been those who plant with the full-support of an established church.
Thus, if we want to do a good job of church planting, we need to work hard at not abandoning established churches, but revitalizing them. As we seek to multiply churches through church planting, let’s not be too quick to ignore established churches.
When seeking to save a dying church, consider church adoption. I challenge many established and planted churches to consider not merging with (as this seldom works), but adopting one of the many struggling churches all over America.
A struggling church may provide a planted church with a worship facility. Some can be sold and the money given to a church plant or a strong, vital church in the area. This helps us to focus on both church planting and revitalization.
Multi-Site Church Network
(A Solution that Facilitates Church Planting and Revitalization)
Finally some can be restored and become part of a network of multi-site churches. Multi-site isn’t the way of the future. It is the past, present, and future. I understand that many pastors, churches, and denominations have concerns with multi-site churches and church networks. But you can’t deny that they are doing an incredible job of planting new works and strategically collaborating to reach their communities.
What if we spent as much time learning from multi-site churches and networks as many people do complaining about them? It could initiate an incredible movement of both church planting and revitalization among the churches in North America and around the world.
Take a minute to assess how you are involved in church planting and revitalization. Few people do both well. Consider who you could learn from, how you could partner with others and what other steps you could take to improve the future trajectory of your church.
Dr. Aubrey Malphurs is the Founder and Visionary Leader of the Malphurs Group (a church consulting firm) and the Senior Professor of Leadership and Pastoral Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary. He frequently writes on Pastoral Ministry, Church Leadership Development, Strategy, and Vision and also serves churches and denominations as a Consultant and Speaker (The Malphurs Group church consulting team also provides Leadership Coaching and Sunday Secret Shopper Consultations). He is also a husband, father, grandfather, fisherman, and a diehard Florida Gator fan. | @amalphurs | website