There are so many churches that are barely making it. They may be weeks, months or just a few years away from closing their doors. What, if anything, can be done to bring them back around?
First, some churches are going to shut down but keep in mind…that doesn’t mean the kingdom comes to a halt. Those people and resources can be poured into other congregations. It is sad to see a church close its doors but it isn’t the end of the world. The church in Ephesus stopped meeting at some point in time. Can you imagine being the last person out from a church Paul planted? Maybe that was easier to do when they met in homes. Keep in mind…every single congregation will close its doors at some point in time. This is why starting new churches is essential. I digress…
What can a church do to bring about renewal? Is it a strategy to reach young people? Better worship? More community service? Those are all well and good but the reality is none of those are going to be a quick fix and much of that can be superficial fixes. What is really needed is a reboot…a change in our operating system. We are running Windows 95 and we at least need to be up to Windows 7 or maybe even go to Mac in some situations. In other words, the way we think may be what is killing us and until we change our underlying assumptions, superficial fixes won’t help much. Getting a new, energetic song leader won’t get you very far if you aren’t willing to try new things.
Not every church needs to implement the same thing but I can tell you this – every struggling church needs to start looking at renewal and start with fasting and prayer. You can read a dozen articles on how to turn it around but if you aren’t seeking God over the experts you won’t find the right “thing” because it isn’t about a “thing” it is about God. Churches in trouble often have leadership out of step with the Holy Spirit, running headlong without spiritual discernment or biblical directives. Fasting and prayer reprioritizes everything.
Are we serious about following God or not? Are we serious about His mission or not? Are we going to be obedient to what He told us or not? Fasting and prayer. Fasting and prayer. Prayer and fasting. Let God show you the way because the expert writing the article on how to turn things around doesn’t know your church and your church doesn’t belong to her – but God knows and we belong to Him.
Any church renewal strategy that doesn’t start with fasting and prayer is going to miss the point. It may be you fast and pray and are more convinced to close the doors and use those resources in a new way…maybe start a new church with fresh DNA. It may be God shows you a glaring need in your community that your congregation has a unique position or potential to meet.
If you aren’t listening to God you won’t find renewal.