Renewed Hope: How to Kickstart the Process of Church Revitalization

Hope is a term often used in a context of doubt.

When we say, “I hope my team wins,” there is a hint of disbelief. When we say, “I hope my church grows,” you know it’s not guaranteed. When I peer into the freezer and say, “I hope there is ice cream,” the grim knowledge of my kids’ appetites adds an element of doubt.

Biblical hope, on the other hand, conveys confidence and security. When the Bible uses the word hope, there is no inclination to doubt.

As we venture into 2022, let’s invest in biblical hope. Just because national trends point to a decline in the North American church does not mean your church must decline. Leaders cannot resign themselves to negative influences and outcomes. Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy and has no place in the church.

Embrace optimism and abandon pessimism. Pessimism is a weight. Optimism is an investment. Not all optimists are leaders, but every leader must be an optimist. As a leader in your church, you have a responsibility to convey a hopeful message to your congregation. Leaders take people to a better place. And this year can be the start of a hope-filled journey.

Get out in front and show the way with evangelism. If an entire church is stuck, then someone must be the first to get unstuck. Why not you? There are plenty of stories in the Bible and in church history where God used one person to begin a movement. Lead by example, especially in sharing your faith. The Great Commission is largely absent among believers and in churches. It can be present again with you!

Raise the bar of expectations within the church. Our first impressions director prints a lanyard with someone’s name on it before asking them to serve. She then hands the lanyard to the person and says with confidence, “I believe you would be an excellent addition to this ministry. Will you help us?”

Too many ministry leaders assume people do not want to serve and make the ask as if serving is a burden. You can refresh your church just by refreshing the way you ask people to serve! Start with the assumption people will live up to high standards. Challenge them to do more, not with guilt but with encouragement.

Focus on outreach at least once a quarter. The healthiest churches inwardly are the ones most focused outwardly. Make sure your church is moving outward at least once a quarter. Host a neighborhood party. Create a prayer walk initiative. Serve a local school or non-profit. If people stay inside the physical walls of the church and inside the physical walls of their homes, then they create spiritual walls between them and their neighbors.

Emphasize high levels of hospitality with guests and with neighbors. Hospitality is one of the most underrated spiritual gifts in the church. It’s not enough to be friendly from a distance. Hospitality is more than handshakes and smiles. True hospitality invests in the life of someone. Have a family over for dinner. Limit what you say about yourself. Genuinely dig into their hopes and demonstrate that you care about them.

I’m optimistic about this year. You should be as well. A renewed church can happen. Hope does not need to come with a measure of doubt. The hope God gives is reality.

I explore much more about how to kickstart church revitalization in my book, The Church Revitalization Checklist: A Hopeful and Practical Guide for Leading Your Congregation to a Brighter Tomorrow. Get a copy today!


Posted on February 16, 2022

As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
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  • Douglas R. Somers says on

    Hello, I am interested in getting your material on a healthy Church checklist. Can I go to Tyndale and order it?
    Thank You,

    Doug somers
    [email protected].

  • Andrew Powell says on

    Good words Sam,

    I apprecaite the focus on hope not being a whimsical lack of assurance, as such a view is counter-gospel. Jesus Himself is our Living Hope, so all hope is rooted in HIM, who is the Living God, and He does not disappoint. I have found this season to be encouraging. While some may disagree, I believe that what some see as a decline in the church, is our Lord refining His church. Many metrics that churches have used to define success have been weighed and found wanting, and I believe our Lord is challenging us to reject the wide and shallow approach and engage in a robust faith that upholds depth; qualitative discipleship. Much of your challenge has been the conviction within my church, and I believe that the more we focus on the God’s glory through making disciples, the more we will see the local church thrive by awakening incarnational communities that make the Great Commandment and Great Commission palpable. Keep up the good work brother!


  • Oshebar Hardman says on

    Hey Sam,

    I finished the book “Church Revitalization Checklist” last night and I must say thank you for putting your heart, wisdom and encouragement into this book. I’ve been pastoring for 14 years (almost 9 at my current church) and I thank you for your perspective. I will be taking our church through this checklist journey together and I believe that God will and is already saving our church from decline and ultimately death because of you and your father’s ministry. May God continue to bless you and family for the wonderful work you are doing to continue the build the kingdom of God.