From the moment that a church begins, barriers will surface that offer real obstacles to that church going to the next level. A number of books have been published and chapters written that address growth barriers: the 200 barrier, the 800 barrier, the 1000 barrier, and so on. The church in need of revitalization is not focused on growth barriers because growth is not a present reality. What many church leaders fail to recognize, though, is that the plateaued church faces some real barriers to genuine turnaround. These barriers must be assessed and eliminated in order for the church to get on track once again. Then the church can address the growth barriers that will arise once the church experiences real revitalization, a problem that should be a welcomed challenge.
One of the greatest hindrances to revitalization and getting the church back on a growth track is the church facilities. An easy assessment that both a prospective pastor and seasoned pastor can make comes from evaluating the condition, location, and use of the church property. When a church sits on a plateau or is in decline, the buildings and grounds turn out to be one of the first areas of neglect. Money becomes tight, and the church initiates a deferred maintenance program. Additionally, the longer an individual’s membership exists, the less apt that person is to look at the church facilities with a critical eye. In fact, a protectionism can develop among the Thirties because they are the ones who built and maintained the buildings. A criticism of the facilities could be perceived as a personal attack on them. That fact alone demonstrates why the simple act of change becomes increasingly difficult. Buildings serve as a source for turf wars, thus care must be taken in initiating this level of change. Be careful not to drive people to fix their facilities. Lead them to make the changes.
William Henard, Can These Bones Live: A Practical Guide to Church Revitalization (Nashville: B&H, 2015).
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