What are the options open to churches that are in decline or need to change direction? How do they find their way into their God-given, hope-filled future?
Gordon Penfold and Gary Taylor in their book Restart Churches: Proven Strategy to Restore Vibrant Ministry to Your Church give a solid, wise, and practical solution, namely they call on churches that are struggling to restart. A restart means letting go of the present life of the congregation while using its resources to restart the church. The authors point out that a restart is a combination of doing a turnaround and a church plant, “taking the best of both worlds while discarding unnecessary baggage.”
Penfold and Taylor point out the necessity of helping more and more churches restart as an important part of continuing gospel impact in communities. While they hold that church planting is absolutely vital for the spread of the gospel, they also hold that restarting churches holds great promise for gospel impact.
At the heart of a successful restart, according to the research done by the authors, is effective leadership and a well-defined process. The bulk of the book takes us through both of these areas pointing out the critical parts of a restart process, the necessary order of that process and giving us insightful stories on churches that have succeeded and failed in their restart attempts. These stories keep the restart process real and keep us grounded as we imagine a restart future.
Penfold and Taylor’s book is a helpful read for pastors, church leaders and congregational members who are wondering about what next steps their congregation can take. (Note: While the book focuses on restarts is also lays out several other options for congregations.) It is also helpful in helping pastors and church leaders to see the landscape of what a church restart looks like.