In North America, the majority of churches are plateaued or declining. At the same time, though, church revitalization is a growing movement today (with, in my judgment, Church Answers leading the way). For those churches needing revitalization, maybe these reflections about Christmas will give you hope today:
1. Darkness is not final. The prophets had foretold Jesus’ coming, but darkness reigned a long time. It seemed to rule for centuries, through the rise and fall of several kingdoms. It faced its end, though, when the Light was born in Bethlehem. The darkness won’t win over God’s church, either.
2. God works in His time. It was in the “fullness of time” that God sent Jesus – at exactly the right time in history (Galatians 4:4-5). I wish I could tell you how long it will take for God to revive your congregation. I don’t know the answer, but this I do know: God’s timing is always right.
3. God works in unexpected ways. As far back as the Garden, God announced He would send someone from the seed of woman to defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15). His plan, however, was surely unexpected: God would come as a baby born to a virgin likely resting among animals in a small village. How God will revitalize your church might surprise you and your congregation, but that’s okay. He works that way sometimes.
4. Humility matters. God lowered Himself to become one of us. The baby Jesus was born to a young unmarried girl whose name is now known solely because of her role. He wasn’t born in Rome, or even in Jerusalem, but in the small town of Bethlehem. God is looking for humble leaders – not those seeking to build their own kingdoms – to be instruments of revitalization.
5. God’s got this. Read the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke, and you’ll remember again how complete and right God’s plan was from the beginning. Over centuries and across cultures, God was fully in charge of the plan. Nothing worried Him, and nothing caught Him by surprise. He is still in charge and He's still not worried...Your situation still hasn’t surprised Him. He’s got this.
6. Resurrection Day’s coming! Christmas without Easter is incomplete, but we needn’t worry about that reality. God knew resurrection day would come when He sent His Son to Bethlehem. He knew the tomb Jesus would borrow would be only a temporary stopover on the way to granting eternal life. Christmas is all about hope when we know a greater day’s coming. So, look forward to tomorrow as you serve God in revitalization.
7. It’s okay to rejoice out loud. The angels sang out, “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:13). The shepherds glorified and praised God after they’d seen the baby (Luke 2:20). Simeon and Anna quickly spoke of the Christ child when they met Him (Luke 2:25-38). When God works miracles (like revitalizing a dying church), somebody needs to be singing out loud. Perhaps your church will find renewed life if you lead them today with a revived song in your heart.
If you’re leading a struggling church, let the story of Christmas give you hope today.
Originally published at Church Answers.
Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. A conference speaker and author or co-author of more than ten books, including Spiritual Warfare: Biblical Truth for Victory, Discipled Warriors, Putting on the Armor, Mentor, and Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture, Dr. Lawless has a strong interest in discipleship and mentoring. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.