In recent years a new buzzword has appeared on the church scene: Revitalization. Unlike marketing buzzwords this concept carries with it real substance and stands to make a lasting impact on the church. This idea, used specifically about the local congregation, carries with it the hope of renewed vigor; redirected purpose; restoration of healthy growth and the refreshments of the Holy Spirit over the entire life of the church.
It is Mike Ross's premise that churches in need of revitalization need revitalized pulpits. The challenge is for Pastors to lead the revitalization of declining congregations through the primacy of the pulpit. Why?—because Church revitalization can never be maintained unless it is the product of a Biblical pulpit.
Mike perceptively examines historic and contemporary preaching and assesses which changes are necessary for church revitalization. He then proposes practical steps that can be taken to 'rebirth' the local church through revitalized preaching.
“In other words, preaching must become the chief duty of the minister if his preaching is to be taken seriously or attended with God’s blessing of revitalization.” (Page 29)
“A pastor’s leadership in revitalizing the church begins with his role as a preacher.9” (Page 20)
“When content is shallow, when style is pre-eminent, and when sermons lack an aura of authority and depth, it is difficult, if not impossible, to do three things: promote the importance of preaching, gain primacy for preaching in the church schedule, and convince people they need to be excited about and committed to preaching.” (Page 38)
“There is a famine in our land for the Word of God, a dying hunger for ‘holy manna’ (Amos 8:11). And it is the duty of godly preachers to seek to do something about that lack of holy manna, that preaching of the Word that reforms religion, revives the Church and regenerates dead souls.” (Page 16)
“Preparation for revival can be made, and in fact, should be made by those who sense the church’s need for renewal and by those who love the name of Christ and want to see it promoted and professed.12 But the trap of falling into ‘revivalism’ while seeking and praying for revival must certainly be avoided.” (Page 23)
He takes us into the heart experiences of those who hear the revitalizing Word, and humbly describes the congregation of trinity Church 'Often people weep during the sermons. Some have lingered long after the services in a spirit of prayer. And still others have been moved to confession of sin and to seek counseling for help in troubled areas of their lives' Others have left the church! Ten of the twenty chapters in this thoroughly commendable book refer to Christological, ecclesiastical, missiological, doctrinal, and ethical themes, with a strong appeal for preaching with deliberate balance. But the first step in revitalization is said to be a discovery of Christ and what he has done. Then the flame of love for him which burns in the heart of the preacher will ignite the church with similar devotion. According to this book there is real hope for dying churches. This much needed news is worth reading.
—Timothy Alford, Stowmarket, Grace Magazine, January 2007
Not many books on church revitalization these days see preaching as crucial, at least not expository preaching. So it is both a relief and blessing to listen to wise, tested counsel from a minister of the Word who has put his method into practice. . . .
—Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi
. . . .both readable and extremely helpful. Michael wonderfully affirms Biblical preaching and does not allow cultural fads to diminish our confidence in God's promise to save men and women through the "foolishness of preaching," he does point out the appropriate ways to connect to the culture without being conformed by it.
—Harry L. Reeder, Pastor of Preaching & Leadership, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama
A clarion call on the need for biblical preaching by a seasoned and effective preacher designed to encourage preachers to preach better, to God's glory and with a view to seeing the Holy Spirit pour forth blessing. I highly recommend it as vital reading for every preacher.
—Derek Thomas, Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi
This excellent book argues that church revitalization can never take place and be maintained unless it is the product of vital expository preaching. As evangelicals, have we lost confidence in pulpits, preachers and preaching, reducing the proclamation of the living Word of God to mere explanation? The bottom line is that the revitalizing of the Church necessitates first a revitalization of preaching. We either heed the call or drift.
—Robin Sydserff, Minister, St Catherine's Argyle Church of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland