There is such a thing in Christian leadership and church life as replanting a church. In the western world there is a need for new churches. In some cases existing churches must multiply and plant new churches from scratch. In other cases, existing churches must and should be revitalized – in essence, they must be ‘replanted.’
The work of replanting or revitalization an existing or dying church is very challenging. Maybe even more challenging than planting a new church from scratch. In a replant the leader is often confronted with mounting debt, falling attendance, a damaged reputation in the community, spiritual lethargy, and long standing turf wars that have distracted the leadership from the true work of outreach, care, and evangelism.
To replant a church requires a strong leader with vision, steely conviction, and foremost patient reliance on God’s faithfulness.
It is undeniable that churches evolve over time. Over the life of a church, neighbourhoods can change, leadership can expand and even fail, theological trends can take hold, unity can be lost, and splits can occur. Throughout all of this turmoil, congregations (local churches) frequently become inward-focused and often obsessed with maintaining the status quo. If not dealt with this will lead to the death of the local church.
Well-meaning members lose sight of their roles as servants and become increasingly focused on controlling the very church they are called to serve. When a serving heart is replaced by a controlling heart, division is bound to ensue. And, when selfish division lies unchallenged, areas of ministry and service become turfs to be defended, and brothers and sisters in Christ become opponents and obstacles to individual accomplishment. This would describe accurately a church I am currently working with in the United States that has now reached the point of needing to be replanted.
When a church reaches this stage in its history and life-cycle it is time to either shut the doors and walk away or it is time to replant.
The typical life-cycle of a local church is as follows… A replant would need to begin between “retire” and “old age.” Any later and it is too late. Note the key describing the letters beside each stage…