How Do You Revitalize a Congregation? by Rev. Andy Simcak (from the Texas Confessional Lutherans)

(Rev. Simcak  contributes regularly on behalf of the Texas Confessional Lutherans. The  other posts in this column  can be found on the Regular Columns page.)  


In a February 2008 letter to LCMS pastors synod president Kieschnick stated that the 2007 Synod convention in Houston “adopted a resolution to revitalize the mission of 2000 existing LCMS churches by 2017 as a major component of ABLAZE!”

                      A revitalized congregation is regularly and consistently making

                      new disciples and renewing its members in order that they make

                      new disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit

He reminds us that LCMS World Missions was already working on revitalization even before the 2007 convention. Dr. Terry Tieman, LCMS World Mission’s national director for revitalization, affirms that “we have a pretty good idea how it works.”


The districts of synod have been invited to participate in a “Transforming Congregations Network.” (TCN). Districts were invited to send someone to TCN training April 2-6 in Sacramento, CA. Another training event will be in Orlando, FL in September.

                        The LCMS World Mission Task Force on Mission Revitalization

                        has been working with district mission executives and district

                        presidents to identify characteristics of a revitalized congregation..


Here are some of the suggested characteristics:

  1. “Marked increase from previous years in conversion growth, measured by adult baptisms and adult confirmations.”


Comment: What does “marked increases” mean? Are a pastor and his congregation to be judged by “conversion growth”? Where in God’s Word is there any mention of “conversion growth, measured by adult baptisms and adult confirmations”? What about pastors in small congregations? The pastor may be faithful in preaching and teaching God’s Word and administering the Sacraments as Christ has instituted them; however, the opportunities for numerical growth are very minimal. Is this Christian love to brand such a pastor and congregation as needing revitalization? Every pastor at his ordination and ensuing installations never promises or even remotely infers that he will strive for a “marked increase from previous years in conversion growth.” We leave the results to the Holy Spirit, Who works through the means of saving grace!


  1. “Worship attendance increasing 5 percent or more.”

Comment: Show me a Bible passage that mandates at least a 5 percent worship attendance increase! There is none! How discouraging it must be for a congregation to be told it needs to be revitalized when it has been faithful to God’s Word, but has not demonstrated at least a 5 percent growth in worship attendance! What if a congregation has only a 2% growth? Is it to be revitalized?


  1. “Increase in members returning a tithe and/or increasing their percentage giving.”

Comment: How will a congregation determine the percent of income members give to the Lord? Did the Task Force examine Scripture to determine God’s guidelines for giving?


  1. “Multiplication or number of hours invested by laity in community service.”

Comment: What does this really have to do with being a revitalized congregation?


Some of the other suggested characteristics of a revitalized congregation are “multiplication of personal evangelism initiatives, including initiatives like ‘Groups Ablaze!”; “multiplication in number of critical events.” Space and time does not allow further comments about all the suggested characteristics.


All of them that are finally presented to the 2010 convention need extremely thorough examination and discussion based on what God’s Word states about revitalizing congregations, pastors and laity


Every congregation, every pastor, every lay person – we are daily in need of revitalization. This can only occur through the Word of God and the Sacraments!.


Rev. Andrew Simcak, Jr., President – Texas Confessional Lutherans


About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


How Do You Revitalize a Congregation? by Rev. Andy Simcak (from the Texas Confessional Lutherans) — 53 Comments

  1. Okay,
    Hang it, & come what may, here it goes, if you want to know what these documents say, PROMISE ME YOU WILL JUST READ VERY CAREFULLY, IN CONTEXT WITH OUR FOUNDATIONS, BY LAWS, & MOST IMPORTANTLY WITH SCRIPTURE! You may have to play & jiggle things, I know I had to. Click each, if what is refered to here isn’t that document.

    Go to google, and google each one, seperately

    TCN Implementing Church Leadership Goverance Document

    TCN Process

    TCN District Partnership ( word document may be needed)

    TCN Transforming Congregations Network Covenant

    go to & look up, Winning on Purpose, by John Edmund Kaiser. On the left, go to the look for free & clink on index. LOOK AT THE NAMES & REFERENCES! THIS IS WHAT TCN, ABLAZE, & FAN THE FLAME IS BASED UPON. Can we say Purpose Driven Life/Church: Kimball, Dan: that is the best it gets. Go to their websites & look at what they speak & teach,(Dan Kimball spoke to the Texas Youth Assembly in January) this is how LCMS has gotten on Apostasy Road. It DOES matter, who you have fellowship with, as who they may have fellowship with & what those people teach POLLUTES WHOMEVER THEY TOUCH.
    A LITTLE LEAVEN LEVENS THE WHOLE LUMP, & lump ain’t worth much, now is it?

  2. I see TCN has some statistics from the Mid-South District concerning growth in churches that have gone through the Transformation process. They talk about “organic growth” which calculates growth from the lowest month’s attendance after the transformation began to the average attendance starting with the 7th month after the transformation began. This seems a little fishy to me. It sounds as if they wait for all the people who are dissatisfied with the change to leave, and then they calculate “growth” which would appear to be larger than if they didn’t do so. I think some of the results might show a church to be at the same attendance level before and after the change. Would you agree?

  3. Well, you have to get rid of the “alligators and bosses”–those malcontents in the power structure that oppose anything new, fresh, and different, including TC. Borden predicts that there will be some losses during the first year. THEN, the growth will happen. I don’t think those malcontents leave within a month or so–many members are very reluctant to leave their congregations–it takes awhile. In that way, the methodology is indeed flawed. The other flaw is in the duration. Seven months is hardly enough time for meaningful statistics. I’m sure we can find examples of numerical growth in 7 months where no program whatsoever was in place.

    GRS–you are spot-on!!

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