One of the latest trends in church work is the model of replanting. Replanting consists of taking a church that is dying and relaunching it as a more contemporary congregation with new leadership, new name, new location, and new paradigm for ministry. For some, the idea of closing a church is almost blasphemous. Though statistics reveal the average church is less than 100-200 members and hundreds of churches shut down for good each year, replanting is an idea that is gaining momentum as a viable alternative to closing down.

Here are four scenarios that might consider replanting:

The Dying Church
I consulted with a pastor who served at a church that is 80 years old and has 15 members attending. Several of the members are the pastor’s family. The building is paid for but maintaining the grounds and paying the bills consumes the small offering the church received. No matter how hard the pastor tries, ideas he attempts, the church is simply not growing. One might say the church has the wrong leader or strategy but it could be the church has run its course. Instead of letting it fade away, replanting could be the very strategy that honors the history of the church.

The Pastor Killing Church
Unfortunately, there are churches that have earned a reputation for fighting pastors. Somewhere in the governing leadership, there are individuals hell bent on resisting the shepherd and they are proud of it. It seems as if identifying and removing those individuals is enough, but it may not be. The fighting spirit has tarnished the church in such a way, it might be best to start anew. In this case, a totally new leadership team is needed along with the guidance of outside help such as consultants or a denominational organization.

The Shifting Demographic Church
Many churches in urban areas face the problem of changing demographics around the church. I pastored an African-American church that sat in the middle of a growing Hispanic neighborhood. We considered moving or renting out space for a Hispanic service but eventually, we did what most other churches do: we became inward focused and kept our Spanish brothers and sisters at arms distance. Instead of moving away, why not allow a new church to be established that is multicultural and able to meet the needs of all who attend?

The Legacy Church
Churches with land, property, multiple buildings, that are debt free (or heavy in debt) but very few members are ideal for replanting. The buzzword for these churches is “legacy churches”. A fresh, innovative vision for ministry might be exactly what is needed to make the church leave a legacy that is far greater than its. lifespan. These churches can adopt a new church plant or even house a few. New churches are always looking for worship space. Why not offer a facility that is underused?

Not every struggling church should replant. Next time, I will talk about the difference between replanting and revitalization. For some, a few simple tweaks can breathe life into a church but for others, a new church might be the ultimate expression of service to the community and the kingdom.

What are your thoughts?

Anthony Cobbs
Breakthrough Ministry Consulting