Revitalizing the Declining Church

From Life Support to Life-Sustaining, There is Hope for the Declining Church

Revitalizing the Declining Church: From Death’s Door to Community Growth, by Desmond Barrett, offers hope for declining churches that are willing to imagine new possibilities, dig their heels in, and let go of the past.

If you’re a church leader, I don’t need to share the statistics with you. You’ve either read them, felt them, or become them. According to Barna’s research, church attendance has dropped in every age category below levels seen in the last 20 years. Thousands of churches are closing every year. And, of course, most of the statistics we read are pre-COVID. The decline has only accelerated in the past year. Is the answer to simply give in, give up, and lock the doors?

Not So Fast

Revitalizing the Declining Church by Desmond Barrett

Desmond Barrett has assembled a short and encouraging book based on his experience and research of case studies of churches that have put in the work of revitalization to see new life and new hope in their communities. Revitalizing the Declining Church offers hope and a new vision to churches feeling the slide into those painful statistics.

Kyle Bueermann reminds us, “As the head, (Christ) alone has the power to bring back to life a church that’s on the brink of death. The good news is, of course, that He loves to bring things that were once dead, back to life.”

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That’s Not How This Works

Reveal Yourself to Me

Should we randomly open our Bible and ask God, “reveal yourself to me?” If we truly esteem God’s word, shouldn’t it be seen in our Bible study?

When I was 16 years old, I gave my life to Christ and was baptized. My new church family gave me a Bible as a gift for my commitment. I remember the morning one of the deacons handed it to me. My youth group friends, sitting together as we always did, feigned “oohs” and “aahs” over my gift and I played it up, displaying the crisp white pages.

Trust me, they were impressed.

Then, purely out of goofiness, I slipped my finger between a couple of pages and declared, “I’d like to read something that has meant a lot to me.” Turning to the random passage and placing my finger at the top of the page, I read from Proverbs 30:2-3 (in the 1984 NIV, of course. That was my generation’s KJV), “I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man’s understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.”

Completely random! We all got a great laugh out of it, and I learned the dangers of playing “pin the tail on the donkey” Bible study. It made me look like the donkey!

You know what I mean.

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The Devil Inside: How My Minister Father Molested Kids In Our Home And Church For Decades And How I Finally Stopped Him

The Devil Inside, by Jimmy Hinton, a Review

The Devil Inside: How My Minister Father Molested Kids In Our Home And Church For Decades And How I Finally Stopped Him, by Jimmy Hinton is a book you cannot afford to miss.

The Devil Inside: How My Minister Father Molested Kids In Our Home And Church For Decades And How I Finally Stopped Him

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve described a book as “a difficult but necessary read.” The Devil inside, by Jimmy Hinton, redefines how I think of books that fit those categories.

In 2011, Jimmy’s sister, Alex, confided in him that their father had sexually abused her as a child. Jimmy was serving as pastor of the church he had grown up in—the same church his father had served before him. After turning his father over to the police, others began coming to him with similar stories of his father’s abuse. His father had always been his hero and role model. Jimmy’s world was rocked and would never be the same again.

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Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff

Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff, a Review

Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking, by Jon Acuff, is enjoyable, motivating, and perfect for overthinkers. This is a book your internal monologue needs to hear!

My name is Bret Hammond, and I am an overthinker.

(This is the part where you say, “Hi, Bret.”)

I am an overthinker. This is very true; my thoughts are loud and are not always helpful or kind. I’ve not exactly been a big believer in motivational writings and speeches. I find a lot of them to be kind of hokey. However, I love Jon Acuff’s work and have always found him both inspirational and relatable.

Soundtracks, by Jon Acuff

Jon calls the interior thoughts that we’re always listening to “Soundtracks.” As with a movie, the soundtrack sets the tone and the mood for your life. If your soundtrack is always telling you “I’m not good enough” and “I’m going to fail,” then you’ve got to find a way to change the soundtrack—turn it off or turn it down. You cannot allow your overthinking to control what you don’t do.

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Preaching Hope in Darkness: Help for Pastors in Addressing Suicide from the Pulpit

Preaching Hope in Darkness, a Review

Preaching Hope in Darkness: Help for Pastors in Addressing Suicide from the Pulpit by Scott M. Gibson and Karen E. Mason is excellent for addressing one of the most vital and yet ignored topics from the pulpit.

For every fourteen suicide deaths each year, approximately five hundred people attempt suicide, and three thousand people think about suicide. About 8 million Americans have suicidal thoughts each year.

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Preaching Hope in Darkness: Help for Pastors in Addressing Suicide from the Pulpit

The first time I preached a funeral for a victim of suicide, it was overwhelming, numbing, and I felt ill-prepared to care for the survivors afterward. That also describes every other time I have preached a funeral following a suicide. It’s easy to complain about the things we didn’t learn in Seminary. However, we are blessed with resources from experienced pastors and caregivers that continue to sharpen our service and give us the help we need to minister in the most challenging circumstances.

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