According to nextchurches.com, planting a new church is easier than revitalizing a struggling one. But at what cost? What kinds of resources – dollars, volunteers, time – are needed to start a church from scratch? What if you put those kinds of resources, that much effort, into revitalizing a struggling congregation?

The site says to assemble a team and cast a vision, then start raising money – lots of it.  “Big money follows vision.”  I know of churches that struggle by on less income than a single new church launch.

Instead, why not start a church within the church?  The way a church planter starts with a handful of committed volunteers and builds out, there is no reason a church – even a small struggling church – can’t do the same.  I started a congregation in a small church on no money, and it thrived for a season, invigorating the sponsoring congregation.  I’m part of another growing messianic congregation within a Baptist church, begun with no budget and still spending a pittance a year as we approach a consistent 50-60 at each service.

Nextchurches is right that it takes a vision and a core of committed workers.  If the small-church pastor can’t move the intransigent lifetime elders to change the host church, then start a second congregation inside the first with a couple of like-minded individuals.

Who knows, the church within may soon outgrow the parent.

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