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6 reasons relaunching is more difficult than revitalizing or replanting

Thom Rainer headshot

Relaunching. Revitalizing. Replanting.

So many “re” prefixes. It gets confusing.

Let’s review our definitions. Revitalizing means an existing congregation experiences health and turnaround. Replanting typically means another church acquires a declining or dying church and starts it anew. Relaunching could be considered a hybrid approach. A declining or dying church re-starts itself. There is usually a name change, but there is not an acquisition by another church.

Of the three, relaunching is both the rarest and most difficult. Let’s look at six reasons this challenge has many obstacles.

  • Relaunching can be perceived to be a magic bullet. The congregation sometimes think they can slap a new name on the sign, have a grand re-opening, and watch growth take place.
  • Relaunching does not always address the issues and people that are barriers to church health. Church health is a DNA issue. Without changes in the essential hearts and attitudes of the people, healthy change will not take place.
  • Relaunching can divide a church. This divide can occur along many fault lines, especially worship styles and name changes.
  • Relaunching will struggle if expectations and sacrifices are not explicit and clear.Otherwise, members will have varying expectations about the changes and results of a new launch. Clarity and transparency are essential.
  • Relaunching is often a compromise. It’s the “in-between” decision between revitalization and replan There is not a total commitment to the process.
  • Relaunching is often decided without really knowing the change readiness of the church. This factor is essential. It will be a focus of future emphases here and at Church Answers.

You may conclude I am not a proponent of relaunching. It might surprise you that I actually see it as an incredible option for dying and declining churches. But it is an option that requires open eyes, willing hearts, and sacrificial actions.

You will hear more about these issues later. For now, let me hear from you.

Originally posted at

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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