Tim Stafford at Christianity Today has posted an article on church planting in which he states that planting has become the cutting edge tool in evangelism, replacing the crusade model and even usurping personal evangelism. This morning, Al Mohler responds to Stafford's article in a mostly positive way, while at the same time encouraging us to not forget the need for revitalization.
Having walked into and now serving as lead pastor in a church that our presbytery considered a work of revitalization, I'm thankful for Mohler's encouragement to not abandon existing churches. But the reality is that these works are extremely difficult - no church accidentally finds itself in need of revitalization. There are times in which a church struggles because it finds itself in a stagnant economic situation or a position in which people are moving out of the area (a problem that has historically faced many urban areas). But most of the time, churches find themselves needing revitalization because they have become overly focused on themselves, missing the necessity of engaging in God's mission, lacking a cohesive plan for ministry and leadership development, and expending so many resources on themselves in terms of time and energy for programming and exhausting financial resources on staffing to maintain the internal culture of the church. And while I certainly fit in the 'young pastor walking into an existing church' model and have been blessed by an amazing amount of unity among our leadership, getting there was not without its headaches and our story is not typical as I talk with other guys who have tried to pull this off.
I don't want to abandon any church - if any church wants to reorient itself to live out a biblical perspective on being the church, I would hope every effort would be made to make that happen. But when local churches cease to function biblically and have no desire to change, I see no reason why we should exhaust and frustrate ourselves to stack greased bb's.