“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Donald McGavran, the father of the Church Growth Movement, once said, “It is easier to birth a baby, than it is to resurrect the dead.” He was talking about church planting vs. church revitalization in the comment above. You are most likely reading this because you are in need of either encouragement, tools, or help with vision casting/direction. These books have a little of it all! One must be called to revitalization, as it presents different challenges and obstacles to pastoring. One of the biggest challenges you will face is to lose hope. Do not lost hope brothers, God can breath new life into dry bones!
Many of you know that I am working on my Doctorate of Ministry with a concentration in church revitalization; therefore, I am often asked, “What books do you recommend for a pastor to read?” Here is my top five list of books on local church revitalization:
5. Rutland, Mark. ReLaunch. Elgin, IL: David C. Cook, 2013. 208 pages.
Relaunch is very encouraging and provides great tools for daily ministry. The “fringe principle” saves pastors from many headaches. Rutland gives a very helpful leadership grid in describing them as “Finders, Binders, Minders, and Grinders.” Despite his Pentecostal theological leanings, we have much that can be learned from his gifting as a leader.
4. Malphurs, Aubrey. Look Before You Lead: How to Discern and Shape Your Church Culture. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013. 272 pages.
This book is a must read for anyone pastoring a traditional/established church. You must understand the culture you inherited, before you can lead them to change. Dr. Malphurs gives you the tools you need to understand the church’s culture and you own culture.
3. Stetzer, Ed, and Mike Dodson. Comeback Churches. Nashville: B&H, 2010. 240 pages.
Looking for lots of excellent research, encouraging examples, and proven tools? This is the book for you! This is a must read, especially if you need encouragement. Stetzer and Dobson research the story of how 300 local churches turned around and gives hope yours can too.
2. Rainer, Thom, and Chuck Lawless. Eating the Elephant. Louisville: Pinnacle, 2003. 207 pages.
A little dated, but still great principles! The fact that the book states that you begin with outreach is an excellent point. Rainer and Lawless not only give principles, but load the book with several excellent and encouraging examples. A great reminder that we eat an elephant one bite at a time!
1. McIntosh, Gary. There’s Hope for Your Church. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012. 208 pages.
McIntosh hit a home run with this book. This book contains it all: encouragement, tools, and help with vision/direction. It starts with encouragement, seeking to give you hope to carry onward for the kingdom. You will find the description of the churches in this book all too familiar. Get this book and thank me later!