Seven Biggest Surprises of Church Revitalizers and Church Replanters

Episode #041
May 17, 2018
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Church leadership can be surprising—especially in revitalization or replanting efforts. Today we discuss some of the surprises we’ve heard and how to work through them.

Today’s Listener Question:


I am in the early stages of a church revitalization in a larger church (350) that has been in decline for 12 years from their peak of 750. I’ve been surprised to discover that the church members are open to change but It’s become clear to me that the staff is not. What are some other surprises I may discover as I continue?

Episode Highlights:

  • Sometimes, a staff doesn’t want change even when it’s needed because it may mean jobs disappear.
  • Don’t assume that the “old guard” in the church will always be resistant to change.
  • Your denomination is not a silver bullet for turnaround in your church.
  • Pastoral care is critical in a revitalization. The congregation has to know the pastor loves them.

The seven surprises we cover today are:

  1. “It’s a lot tougher than I thought it would be.”
  2. “It takes a lot longer than I thought it would.”
  3. “Some of the ‘old guard’ church members are a lot more helpful than I anticipated.”
  4. “The denominational help is not a magic bullet.”
  5. “The depth of hurt in the church is much greater than I first realized.”
  6. “This work is not nearly as cool and fun as I imagined.”
  7. “I am amazed at what God has done in five years.”

Resources mentioned in this episode include:

Revitalize & Replant is sponsored by the North American Mission Board and More than 10% of churches in North America are at risk of closing and the North American Mission Board is committed to reversing this trend by decreasing the death rate of existing churches while simultaneously increasing the birth rate of new churches. To learn more about what it means to become a replanting pastor or to explore resources for replanting and revitalization in your own church, visit

Submit Your Question:

Do you have a question about church revitalization or replanting for us to use on the podcast? Visit the podcast page to submit your question. If we use it on the show, you’ll get a copy of Autopsy of a Deceased Church and Reclaiming Glory.