Those two words have the same root: vite. It’s Latin for life (think: vital, vitality, vitamins, etc.)
When you invite someone to something you’re asking them either to enter into the 'life’ of something or to allow ‘life’ to enter something. When you revitalize something you’re basically re-life-ing it—that is, putting life back into it.
Let’s face it, the numbers aren’t encouraging. Somewhere north of 85% of all churches are either plateaued or declining. In an American context we also know that a good number of the 15% of churches that are growing are doing so off of the losses of the 80+%, not because they’re necessarily reaching lost people.
Churches need help. My church needs help!
One of the great benefits of Southern Baptist partnership is the availability of outside eyes. What I mean is that within an associational and state convention structure, we can invite like-minded/like-hearted lovers of the Church of Jesus Christ to come help us look at our church—to see it in ways we haven’t seen it in a while, to notice things we no longer notice, both inside and outside of the church. No matter how well-staffed or structured, every church at times needs the blessing of an outsider’s perspective.
One of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio’s main objectives is to help in the area of church revitalization. Essentially, the SCBO is extending an invite to revite! And I am so grateful that our state staff have structured this process to begin with a renewed emphasis on prayer. Unless churches are committed to seeking the Lord’s will through united, consecrated prayer, any changes that are made will amount to very little in terms of spiritual awakening and regained missional momentum. Do we really think a church’s gospel effectiveness boils down to a new coat of paint, or do we want to get under the hood and get at the real issues?
It’s a humbling thing to admit as your associational leader that the church I shepherd is in need of revitalization. But on the other hand, I consider it a gift from God and an opportunity for Bridge Church and me as a pastor to face hard questions and tough answers about where we are, how we got here, and what we need to change in order to exhibit once again a life-giving balance of upward desperation for God, inward care for one another, and outward focus on the unreached going forward. Perhaps the Lord will use us/me as an example and encouragement to others across our network in need of the same?
This past Sunday at Bridge we began to answer the invitation to revitalization by utilizing the “Praying with Jesus: 40-Days Toward Revitalization Prayer Guide” provided by the SCBO for FREE as well as the companion 8-week sermon series. Simply click on the title in the preceding sentence to order your copies today! Even though I know it won’t be entirely painless for me or our church, and even though I don’t know what the end result will be, I am hopeful and excited for this journey.
Would you consider leading your church onto the road to revitalization? Prayer guides in any number will be sent to you FREE of charge for your congregation. Your SCBO team stands ready to engage with you in prayer and serious conversations about your church. I am also eager to come alongside you as a local coach and encourager, and I’m happy to share with you what God is doing in my own church/ministry setting as well as other churches across greater Cleveland.