Revitalization, Redevelopment, Restart

Recently a colleague asked if there is a resource that deals with the topics of church redevelopment, church revitalization, and church restart. I’m not aware of any that bring all of these interventions together in one place, so here is my attempt at a (very) quick summary with references for further reading.

1. Church revitalization, church redevelopment, turnaround are all terms used for interventions with congregations on the decline side of the congregational life-cycle. The level of intervention depends upon how far along the decline path the congregation is. As the congregation moves further along the decline path the options for shifting to a growth trajectory become fewer and more dramatic. The lesson: don’t wait to make the changes needed for growth. The avoidance of a little discomfort now only means you’re compounding pain in the future. For more details on these dynamics see:

Can Our Church Live? Redeveloping Congregations in Decline by Alice Mann

Reconstructing Church: Tools for Turning Your Congregation Around by Todd Grant Yonkman

2. Church Restart. At a certain point on the decline-side of the church lifecycle a congregation reaches a “point of no return” where the financial and human resources are depleted to the point that turning the church around is no longer possible. The good news is that resurrection is still possible. Death is inevitable, but depending on local circumstances and how the dying process is managed, a range of rebirth possibilities is available. For more details on different models of church restart see:

Dying to Restart by Weins and Turner

Church Restart vs. Relocation

What’s Up w Pastor Todd 10/16/18

This past weekend over 20 FCC members attended a retreat led by Rev. Jim Griffith of Griffith Coaching and Rev. Paul Nickerson of Nickerson Coaching. Energy was great. We learned a lot. Over the next several weeks, leadership will be summarizing and sharing our learnings and sketching out a plan for an FCC church restart. For me, one important learning was the distinction between restart and relocation.

The definition of church restart is “An effort by a long-declining church in which the church chooses a strategic death so that a new church can be launched in its place, using its existing members and assets.  A restart is characterized by a rapid shift in vision, culture and ministry approach with the purpose of reaching a new target group in its community. A restart combines the approach of church planting with the pastoral work of leading change.”

Restart is a strategic effort to leap as a congregation for the death side of the bell curve (see diagram below) to the birth side of the bell curve. It’s not primarily about changing location, although it can involve that. It’s primarily about changing who we are as a congregation. This is very different from relocation, which is simply changing venues with no accompanying effort to change vision, culture, and ministry approach. Relocation will simply keep us on the same death trajectory, just in a different place, which, to me, seems pointless. That’s why church leadership is engaged in a process of restart.

Church Restart