In almost every congregation, there is some need for revitalization. However, in most congregations, there is an urgent and widespread need for revitalization. Columbine is a congregation that needs revitalization. That is the first step, recognizing and admitting that revitalizing change needs to take place among us. The second step is to pray about this congregation being revitalized. What comes next?
We need to check our commitment and convictions.
When and where I was converted, there was a strong emphasis on commitment and accountability. For disciples on the “minimal commitment” program, a normal week included: Sunday morning class, Sunday morning assembly, Sunday evening “student supper,” Sunday evening assembly, a dorm Bible study, time with a discipler, Wednesday evening Bible class, Friday night devotional, long fellowship time after each of the assemblies and classes, and inviting people to these events and/or personal Bible studies. One was also expected at all special activities that the campus ministry or congregation was doing. For those in the “leadership” track, the above was expected along with several additional meetings and classes.
While this regiment produced results, it also resulted in legalism. No one wants this, but I do think the Lord is pleased where the commitment, accountability, and expectations currently are either.
Fast forward to the present. Church attendance in advanced industrial societies (including the United States) is in gradual general decline with people shifting from weekly to monthly or holiday attendance. According to a Gallup poll, the percent of Americans who regularly attend religious services has fluctuated over time, but presently it is at a low point.
A podcast by Thom Rainer dealt with five significant reasons for the attendance drop: 1) we are minimizing the importance of the local church, 2) we worship the idols of activities, 3) we take a lot of vacations from church, 4) we do not have high expectations of our members, and 5) we make infrequent attendees leaders in our churches.
A few more observations: 1) it is tough to make disciples of church members if you don’t know where they are, 2) culture is not causing churches to compromise (churches are compromising, and culture is saying it’s okay), and 3) there are a significant number of Christians who don’t see church attendance as necessary.
These things need to be addressed in order to revitalize a congregation.