Contrarian Strategies for Reviving a Declining Church

by | Jun 5, 2024 | Church Health, Church Revitalization

If you’re feeling the weight of a declining church, you’re not alone. It’s a tough spot, but it’s not the end of the road. Sometimes, thinking outside the box can make all the difference. Here are three contrarian views on church decline and how to turn things around.

 

1. Bigger Isn’t Always Better

 

The obsession with growth and numbers can sometimes miss the mark. Instead of focusing on how to get more people in the pews, what if we focused on deepening the faith of those already there?

 

Action Steps:

 

  • Invest in Discipleship: Develop strong, meaningful discipleship programs that help your current members grow in their faith. Bible studies, small groups, and one-on-one mentoring can make a huge impact.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Aim for a church that’s spiritually rich rather than just numerically large. When people’s lives are genuinely transformed, they’ll naturally become evangelists for your church.
  • Personal Connection: Focus on building a tight-knit community where people feel known and valued. When members feel a deep connection, they’re more likely to stay and invite others.

 

2. Embrace Tradition

 

In a world that’s constantly chasing the next big trend, maybe the answer isn’t to modernize but to reconnect with tradition. Sometimes, the old ways have a power that new methods lack.

 

Action Steps:

 

  • Liturgical Practices: Reintroduce elements of traditional liturgy and worship that have been sidelined. Many people find comfort and depth in time-honored rituals and practices.
  • Historic Roots: Share the rich history of your denomination or church. Stories of faith from the past can inspire and ground your congregation in a larger narrative.
  • Sacred Spaces: Create moments of reverence and awe in your services. Use symbols, sacraments, and rituals to draw people into a deeper experience of worship.

 

3. Shrink to Grow

 

Sometimes, less is more. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, maybe the answer is to focus on a few things and do them exceptionally well.

 

Action Steps:

 

  • Simplify Programs: Evaluate all your programs and ministries. Are they all necessary? Focus on the ones that truly align with your mission and have the most impact.
  • Targeted Outreach: Rather than casting a wide net, concentrate on specific demographics or needs within your community. Tailored approaches can be more effective than trying to appeal to everyone.
  • Intentional Space: Consider smaller, more intimate gatherings instead of large, impersonal ones. House churches, coffee shop meetups, or even online small groups can foster deeper connections.

 

Revitalization doesn’t always mean following the crowd.

Sometimes, the most effective strategies are the ones that go against the grain. By focusing on discipleship over numbers, embracing tradition, and narrowing your focus, you can create a vibrant, spiritually rich community that stands the test of time.

Decline isn’t a death sentence; it’s an opportunity to rethink, refocus, and renew. Take these contrarian views to heart and see how God might use them to breathe new life into your church.

 

Read more blog posts by Jeff Hoglen, D.Min

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