What is Church Revitalization?
Church revitalization refers to the process of renewing, reenergizing, and revitalizing a declining or struggling church congregation. A church revitalization is often undertaken when a church is facing prolonged challenges such as declining attendance, lack of community engagement, outdated practices, or a general sense of stagnation. The process can be completed internally in some cases but most often requires a partnership with an external church or entity.
Church revitalization requires the commitment and cooperation of both the church leadership and the congregation. It often involves evaluating existing practices, being open to change, and embracing new ways of doing things while staying rooted in the core beliefs and values of the church. The goal of church revitalization is to bring about positive change that breathes new life into the church community and enables it to continue making a meaningful impact on its members and the surrounding community.
By God’s grace, He has opened the door for us to partner with New Hope Baptist Church as part of a new and exciting revitalization effort. We have asked each of you to prayerfully consider being apart of the revitalization at New Hope. To help you further understand what Church revitalization is we have compiled some common questions that may be helpful.
What are the different types of church revitalizations?
Church revitalizations can take many shapes and forms depending on the current condition of the declining church. Even though no church revitalization is the same, they can usually be categorized into 3 buckets.
- Internal Revitalization – if a church is in the early stages of decline and has the willingness, leadership, people and resources to change but lacks the vision and/or strategy, internal revitalization is possible with the guidance of an external consultant or coach.
- Church Fostering – if a church is experiencing a severe, prolonged decline and no longer has the leadership, people or resources for an internal revitalization, church fostering becomes a viable option. Church fostering is a time bound (12-18 months) strategic partnership between a healthy church and a struggling church where the struggling church temporarily gives up authority and accepts coaching, care, leadership, people and resources from the healthy church aimed at returning the struggling church to vitality and full autonomy. A fostering relationship is guided and guarded by a written fostering agreement between the two churches.
- Adoption/Replant – if a church is facing a severe, prolonged decline and lacks the essential resources for revitalization AND is ready to fully release autonomy, it can be adopted and/or replanted. In both scenarios, the struggling church yields property and complete leadership to a healthy church to become a new church plant or campus.
What type of revitalization is New Hope Baptist Church pursuing?
Providence and New Hope have entered into an 18-month church fostering agreement.
What complexities are inherent in church revitalizations?
Summarized in one word: change. Churches that have experienced prolonged decline, regardless of the factors, most often resist change. They long to return to the days of health and believe they just need to work harder and get better at what they have historically done. They routinely become inward focused and lack missional vision. Even if they are trying to reach people, they are doing so with methods that were common decades ago. They fail to understand the changing culture around them. A struggling church must become desperate enough to release leadership and embrace change in hopes of returning to health and its mission.
Are there conditions within our fostering agreement that could end our agreement, by New Hope or Providence, prior to the end of the 18-month period?
The fostering agreement was made in good faith by the leadership of both NHBC and Providence.
Per the agreement, Providence can/may withdraw from the agreement if any of the following three (3) “off-ramps” occur within the process:
- If the NHBC congregation votes “no” to our assessment and formal proposal/strategy of needed changes to the ministry. The congregational vote on our proposal of ministry occurred on August 13 and passed by a vote of 83-7.
- If the NHBC congregation votes “no” to our formal proposal of needed polity/governance changes and subsequent alterations of NHBC’s governing documents. We would expect this vote to take place in the 9-12 month range of the agreement.
- If the NHBC congregation votes “no” to our formal recommendation of a lead pastor. We would expect this vote to take place in the 9-12 month range of the agreement.
How did Providence get involved with New Hope Baptist Church?
When a Baptist church experiences a prolonged season of decline, the leadership of the church typically reaches out to either their local Baptist association (i.e. the Raleigh Baptist Association in our area) or the Baptist State Convention of NC in an effort to seek help. The association will assess the struggling church and make recommendations for revitalization. If needed, they will assist the struggling church in finding a healthy church that is open to fostering, adoption or replanting.
Providence has a strong relationship with both the RBA and the Baptist State Convention and they are aware of our desire and willingness to help revitalize churches. They helped initiate and orchestrate our revitalization work with Mt. Hermon Baptist Church last year and they reached out to us, requesting that we prayerfully consider working with NHBC.
Will there be additional opportunities beyond New Hope Baptist Church for church revitalizations?
Potentially. RBA and the Baptist State Convention are seeking to help multiple churches in the Raleigh area that are currently struggling. If any of these churches is open to help from Providence and is in a location that we could potentially send people and resources, we would prayerfully consider helping. There are currently a couple of other churches on our radar, but we are committed to an ongoing healthy evaluation of our church and staff to avoid over-extending our resources.
Why would Providence consider directing resources to help New Hope Baptist Church?
A part of our current 5-year vision is to “Reach the City”. Church revitalization is one of the many ways we are seeking to accomplish this part of our vision. In church revitalizations, we have an opportunity to pray for, invest in, and breathe new life into a current body of believers in an effort to see them return to reaching their communities for Christ within our city.
What is the history and current health of New Hope Baptist Church?
NHBC was a thriving beacon of gospel light in northeast Raleigh for over a century. Many individuals, over many decades, faithfully worshipped Christ, proclaimed the gospel, sacrificed, loved one another and served the community. By God’s grace, He continually added to their numbers which ultimately led to the construction of a 1,000 seat worship center on its current property in the early 1990s. By the early 2000s, longstanding Senior Leadership retired, and this initiated two decades of short term and interim pastoral leadership. During this time, NHBC plateaued and started a steady decline due to a lack of sustained leadership and vision, among a myriad of other factors.
Today, NHBC has 75-100 faithful members, many who are senior adults, who gather weekly to worship. These individuals faithfully love the Lord and each other in extraordinary ways. It has been a great joy for our team to get to know them and work beside them over the past few months. In July 2022, Paul Jimenez became the interim pastor and continues to serve in that role today. Paul was ordained by Providence many years ago and has served in pastoral roles in Georgia and South Carolina before returning to Raleigh. He and his wife, Cheri, have been faithful servants of Christ for many years and are good friends with the leadership at Providence.
How will Providence seek to partner with and help New Hope Baptist Church?
Over the past 3-4 months, a small team from Providence has spent countless hours assessing the current ministry at NHBC and interviewing many of their leaders and congregation members. Based on that assessment, Providence presented a proposal outlining the current strengths and weaknesses of the ministry and several areas of primary focus that would need to be addressed. The members of NHBC discussed and prayed over this proposal and overwhelmingly voted to move forward. It should be noted that the members of NHBC are moving forward in faith, willing to sacrifice and embrace change in order to reach their community.
Below are some areas of focus that will be short-term priorities:
- Strengthen and expand the hospitality ministry
- Develop and refine guest follow up and assimilation
- Expand and strengthen the worship ministry to include worship leaders and a band
- Develop and expand Kids and Student Life Groups to disciple the next generation
- Develop and implement a discipleship strategy and expand Adult Life Groups
- Develop local outreaches within their community
Long-term priorities include changes in polity (i.e. governance) and operations.
Is there an estimated monetary cost in seeking to revitalize New Hope Baptist Church?
In this year’s budget, we allocated $40,000 towards church revitalizations. However, at this time, we do not see a need to use those funds. The people at NHBC have been and continue to be faithful givers to the mission God has put before them.
What help is needed from the people of Providence in this revitalization effort?
First and foremost, prayer. Would you start to pray daily that God would revitalize NHBC? You can use this prayer guide.
Secondly, people. We are praying that God would raise up individuals and families from Providence who would commit to investing in leading and revitalizing NHBC for the next 12-18 months. This commitment could certainly be viewed as an extended local mission trip. Our first interest meeting is scheduled for September 10th at 12:15 in Prisms.
The more individuals who go, the more momentum and energy we can bring to the revitalization efforts. We will need worship leaders, instrumentalists, hospitality workers, kids leaders, student leaders, Life Group leaders and outreach leaders. We will also need people who will pray, love and encourage the people at NHBC.… all with a passion to introduce people to Christ and grow them up to love and worship Him. Along the way, we will also seek to hire additional ministry staff that can provide long term leadership at NHBC.
How would you counsel me to consider this opportunity to help revitalize a church when I love Providence and am hesitant to leave?
- Pray continually. Each one of us should be continually seeking the Lord’s will in how He would use us for the advancement of His mission during a particular season. For some, it is discipling kids, for others it is local outreach, for others it is helping plant a new church and for others, it is helping revitalize a struggling church. Each endeavor will require a step of faith on our part.
- Remember that each one of us is called to sacrifice for Christ. As Jesus said to His disciples: “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) All of us have the potential to become very comfortable consumers in an established church. Being part of a church revitalization engages us in sacrificing time, energy and effort to encourage, serve and help lead a struggling church to a renewed energy and mission.
- Remember that each one of us should ‘count the cost’. Revitalizing a church is an exciting but slow process of loving people and leading change. It will force us to be yielded to His Spirit, grow us in our faith and dependence on God while being used to advance the mission of God.
- Being a part of a church revitalization can be an exciting spiritual journey with long lasting impact. God can take our efforts over a short time period and use them to grow NHBC to health and impact the community and Kingdom for years beyond our lifetime.