A Biblical and Theological Vision for the Revitalization of Churches
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With thousands of churches dying every year in North America, many pastors have started exploring the concept of church revitalization. Methodology books are beginning to fill the shelves of Christian bookstores, and as many pastors find themselves at churches in need of revitalization, these resources are valuable tools. Nonetheless, merely reacting to finding oneself in a dying church will not help stem the tide overall. A movement of revitalization is required if the large number of churches dying each year is going to subside. In order for a biblical movement to be cultivated and begin to flourish, the problem must be identified clearly in a biblical and theological argument, and motivation and zeal must flow from this biblical source. This dissertation seeks to provide a biblical and theological vision for the revitalization of churches for the sake of feeding a movement of church revitalization. The primary basis for the vision is the nature of churches as worshipers of God, family with one another, and missionaries to the world. Chapter 1 provides the purpose of this dissertation, the research questions, a definition of church revitalization. Chapter 2 establishes reasons for revitalization through an exploration of the nature of churches as worshipers of God. Chapter 3 argues for revitalization based upon the nature of churches as family with one another. Chapter 4 demonstrates a vision for revitalization due to the nature of churches as missionaries to the world. Chapter 5 exhibits the biblical evidence for the ongoing necessity of revitalization through an overview of renewal in the Old Testament, Paul’s ministry, and Revelation. Finally, chapter 6 provides implications of this vision concerning legitimate and illegitimate reasons to stop pursuing revitalization and concerning the proper means and models to pursue the revitalization of churches.