Church Revitalization – A New Chapter of Gospel History in Charleston

Church Revitalization – A New Chapter of Gospel History in Charleston

When the language of Church planting is used many people have one of two responses.
One group of people respond with the eye roll and think, sometimes out loud, “we do not need any more churches! They are everywhere!” Depending on where you are geographically this may or may not be true, but here in the south it is. Although we know that this does not mean that we should neglect church planting, a lot of people who respond in the aforementioned way do so because it just seems to be confusing why we would plant more churches, especially in the south, with so many existing churches. The second response to church planting usually manifests itself as a student who is daydreaming during class and then comes back to study the terms and has no
clue what it means. This is to say, Church Planting is so often spoken of that when we are told, “we are hoping to plant a church in this place” or “we are sending a team to plant a church” or “we are praying about planting a church” in our heads there is this indifferent response of, “whatever” or “sounds good.” We know it is important but do not necessarily know why. Enter, Church Revitalization.

As said above, there are a plethora of churches in the South. I would venture to say the
South is where this consumeristic mindset of “I’ll go to church until I find the one I like” began. Here in Charleston, also known as The Holy City (which may or may not be appropriate), there are churches everywhere. Going to church in Charleston or in the South is like walking around Sams Club or Costco and just getting all the free samples. Now that I have belabored the point of churches in the South, why and what is Church Revitalization?

Church Revitalization is essentially church planting. Instead of starting a new church an
existing church that is in decline will have a team come in and work with the existing Church Body towards reviving that Church.

In Charleston, this has recently happened with Centerpoint Church and Citadel Square Baptist Church. In the Summer of 2016 Centerpoint Church was needing a place to meet. Centerpoint had been congregating together at a local High School but because of renovations could no longer meet there. There was a friendship already built between the Pastor of Citadel Square Baptist Church, David Walker, and Craig Tuck, one of Centerpoint’s Elders. That Summer Citadel Square started hosting Centerpoint.

Fast forward a year later and many conversations, Centerpoint Church and Citadel Square Baptist Church merged together to become Citadel Square Baptist Church. There is a plethora of details but this is a unique thing in many regards. The first thing is the humility that it takes on an existing church, in this case Citadel Square, to even consider the process of revitalization. To begin that process is to recognize that your church is struggling. Admitting that is never easy. This also presents one of the challenges that comes with Revitalization. There is a grieving process. It is ignorance to assume that everyone, on both sides of the Revitalization process is thrilled about it. On the one hand you have a group of people grieving the loss of what they knew for 50+ years or much longer. Therefore, they need to be treated with humility and gentleness as things change and as they adapt. On the other hand, you have a group of people who now realize the responsibility of walking with an older generation through that process and that, as noble as it may seem, comes with much reluctance and grief of another kind.

All of this to say, revitalizations are very complicated. Why? Because they are messy. Churches are full of messy broken people and revitalizations heighten that because people of many different generations are coming together for the gospel. Which gets to the last important point. Why Revitalization? Because of the Gospel. Revitalization and Church Planting share this in common. Why would someone want to plant a church for any other reason than proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to that place? The same question can be asked but in a different way for Revitalization. Why would anyone consider revitalization when that means, in many cases, taking steps backwards to go through all
the ins and outs of reviving a church? Because the gospel makes things new and when cultures collide and are unified in the gospel, it is a beautiful thing to see people continually dying to themselves for the sake of Gospel History being written in their Congregations, Cities and Cultures.


Ben Patton

Generation LINK Resident

Charleston, SC