Church Revitalization: Insights from the Ministry of the Apostle Paul
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Chapter 1 introduces the research topic by examining the current health of the American church. After establishing that the majority of American churches today are indeed unhealthy, a case is made for the need to develop a revitalization strategy to improve the health of these churches. This chapter argues that the apostle Paul was interested in church health and pinpointed three sets of factors which he consistently addressed in his work with churches. Chapter 2 begins by recognizing that Paul used both a proactive and a reactive approach to church health in his work with New Testament churches. The chapter then examines the role Paul played in assisting churches, highlighting attributes which can and cannot be reproduced by revitalization agents today. Chapter 3 is a study of contextual factors which affect the health of the local church. After defining and explaining contextual factors, the chapter examines Paul's strategy for dealing with these factors that threatened the health of the churches with whom he worked. Chapter 4 addresses institutional factors which also contribute to the health of the local church. In this chapter, the concept of institutional factors is defined and explained. The chapter then examines Paul's letters to understand his strategy for addressing institutional factors to improve church health. Chapter 5 then focuses on spiritual factors which are also influential in regard to matters of church health. This chapter reveals that, unlike contextual and institutional factors that church leaders and consultants commonly address today, spiritual factors are often ignored. This chapter extracts Paul's strategy for addressing spiritual factors. Chapter 6 seeks to answer the practical research question of this study: how might a Pauline approach to improving church health be applied today? This chapter emphasizes the need for revitalization agents and church leaders to evaluate their approaches through a biblical lens as they work to improve church health and increase effectiveness.