Revitalization"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (1 Cor. 3:6).
Church membership and attendance have dropped off over the past few decades, and the LCMS is no different. According to Synod reports, we’ve seen a 70% decline in the number of child baptisms since the 1950s (when they peaked) and a 47% drop in adult converts since that time. Every single district has lost membership in recent years.
The numbers are worth noting, but they’re not everything. As the apostle Paul points out, we can plant and water, “but God gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6). The numbers are in God’s hands.
And we’ve seen His Church grow. The growth may be slower in our time and place, but Christ’s Church grows with every new baptized believer. (Think about how many believers have been added since the apostles planted the first churches. That’s a more encouraging trendline, isn’t it?)
It’s still worth asking, though, if we could be planting or watering differently, and that’s what revitalization efforts are all about.
We can’t control the numbers, but we can work to promote greater engagement with the faith. The more engaged people are with their faith, the more active they’ll be in their vocations, and that includes the vocation of Christian witness.
In the re:Vitality program, congregations first determine their “stage of vitality” through a guided self-assessment; they then implement the training modules best suited to their needs. Ultimately, there will be 10 workshops available.
Several pastors in the Kansas District are now being trained as re:Vitality workshop facilitators, and newly designed workshop materials (workbooks, banners, group handouts) will soon be available as a kit, which congregations can order online after scheduling a workshop. The District expects to have funds available in 2018 to help offset workshop costs; for details, contact Rev. Dan Galchutt.
If you’d like to find out more about the program, check out the re:Vitality page, where you can find additional resources as well as a video describing the first module of the program, Connect to Disciple. You can also contact Sarah Baughman, re:Vitality coordinator, at WOR@lcms.org.
NEW for 2018! The Kansas District is now offering mini-grants to help offset the costs of implementing re:Vitality. If your congregation is interested in the re:Vitality program, consider applying for a mini-grant.