Church Planting or Church Revitalization: Which is Better?

in Research

Church planting seems to be in vogue today, attracting hundreds of young seminarians and Bible College men. This resurgence has resulted in an estimated 4,000 new churches being planted in North America every year. That is a trend for which all Bible-believers should be grateful.

Yet research also indicates that about 3,800 churches dissolve and die every year in America. Many others struggle with declining attendance and inadequate leadership. Some Christian leaders thus argue that revitalizing unhealthy churches is as vital for Gospel advance as starting new ones.

Having been a church planter for over 35 years, I admit I’m a little biased. For years I have advocated conventional church-growth wisdom: “It is easier to have babies than raise the dead.” Yet in recent years I’ve become convinced that we often quit too soon in our attempts to revive and turn around churches in decline. It may be more strategic, in some cases, for healthy existing churches and church planters to invest their time, energy and resources in revitalizing struggling congregations.

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