Michael Kellahan recently posted an article on the Sydney Anglicans website about the value and necessity of revitalising churches. He called it "Fixing our Broken Bikes".
I have done some reflecting on the issue myself, and after posting a comment in response to Michael's article, I thought I would put the reflections on here too. Here is what I said:
Hi Michael, lots of good ideas here! In particular I concur with your point that in many churches that need revitalisation there are “people of good-will” who would be happy for change if it will mean growth.
I have been reflecting on this issue and, in trying to detect patterns, I have noticed that some of the stronger churches in the St George area have been 'revitalisations' - I think particularly of Beverly Hills (now with Kingsgrove) and St George North (formerly Carlton + Bexley + Bexley North).
In both cases the transformation included dynamic new leadership (Tony Galea and Zac Veron respectively), significant diocesan support (including probably hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants for assistant ministers at each place), mergers with neighbouring parishes and (at least initially), some transfer growth of key people. No doubt there were other things needed for growing churches (check Zac's book: "Leadership on the Front Foot" for details), but I believe these things were key.
I'm not suggesting these are the only 'revitalised' churches in the area - but others have generally involved new Asian (Chinese) ministries. Perhaps others have more stories? I know some revitalisations are also happening in the Inner West.
It is interesting to note that a reasonably successful church plant in the same area (Christ Church, St George) is likely to join with St George North this year after about 10 years holding meetings in a local High School.
Some implications of my previous post:
(1) Leadership and faithfulness are important and necessary.
(2) Transfers of key lay people may be vital in the early years.
(3) Money for additional ministry can make a huge difference. (But we are talking about significant amounts of money over perhaps a 10 year period. Given our financial crisis we could give up - or we could look for new ways to find the money.)
(4) Mergers can provide additional resources.
(5) We have people who are experienced in doing this (but are our diocesan leaders listening to them?).