Thankfully God has given many church members the resolve to hang on and seek help to breath life back into a fellowship that is suffering. Likewise God has given pastors a desire to step in and attempt to lead the work to see a church become healthy again. This work is called church revitalization. I am grateful to God for so many who are engaged in this work. I am also thankful that the God who calls them to it also kindly blesses the labor with true gospel revitalization.
One guy who has done this work well is Brian Croft. Many people recognize Brian because of the number of books that he has written on pastoral ministry. These books are so helpful not simply because Croft is a theorizer but also because he is also a practitioner. He has put in the work of revitalization. And now, ten-plus years later, he has the revitalized church and the scars to prove it.
It would make sense, then, that Brian would spend some time to drain a few ink bottles and write out what he has learned and experienced. I am grateful that Croft took the time to share a bit about church revitalization. This book, Biblical Church Revitalization: Solutions for Dying and Divided Churches, aims to provide a framework for why and how to go about the intentional revitalization of churches.
The book is well-written and easily digestible. Brian divides the book into three sections, church revitalization defined, diagnosed, and done. In the first section (defined) he reminds readers that the true source of power for any work of God is the Word of God. The priority then for the pastor is faithful prayer, preaching/teaching of the Bible, and perseverance. In the second section Croft takes us through some important questions for any church revitalization: Who is in charge? Whom do I follow? To whom am I accountable? Who is my brother? Why do we gather together?
It is appropriate here to remark upon the use of this book. While the title and the language of the book is heavily geared toward revitalization it is not exclusively for those who are in the process of revitalizing a church. In other words, church planters, seasoned pastors, and church members would greatly benefit from this book. It is a solid treatment of applied biblical ecclesiology. Brian’s burden is for healthy churches that reflect what God’s Word calls them to be. I could see handing this book out to church members so we could better pray for and pursue being a God-honoring church. Second, what pastor is not revitalizing? I know not all churches are in triage, but they are all in need of reform. This book functions like a refreshing reminder of what a healthy church family should look like. It reminds us of its preciousness and why the cost is worth it.
Finally, I am thankful for how Brian ended this book. The last section of the book (revitalization done) readers are granted access into the story of revitalization at Auburndale Baptist Church (Kentucky) where Croft is the pastor. He lets us in to see the painful details of what he endured in this path to revitalization. If nothing else reading this will probably help you feel encouraged about your present church. The poor guy went through it. Perhaps better stated, “God faithfully blessed the guy by bringing him through it.” Read this section and smile at the power of God’s Word in his church.
I think I have read all of Brian Croft’s books, not simply because he is a friend but also because he is a pastor of pastors. He loves and helps the church. I would say that this is my favorite book he has written. It is immensely encouraging, convicting, and practical. I plan to read it with other pastors and those in training for years to come.