Q&A with Bill Henard
Author of ReClaimed Church
What inspired you to write ReClaimed Church?
As I studied church revitalization, one of the conflicts I discovered in many resources was that all of them approached revitalization or replanting with the idea that the church had experienced healthy beginnings. What I discovered (and knew from having pastored churches for decades) is that some churches did not begin out of a healthy vision, and others, even though they were growing, were not experiencing healthy growth. The resulting issue was that the church fell into decline even before the numbers proved it. I wrote the book to help churches evaluate not just their current situations but also their beginnings and their initial years of existence. Knowing the past helps interpret the present.
You recently wrote Can These Bones Live. How does this book build on the argument of that work?
I still approach revitalization from the perspective that a dying church can live again. Some people want to say that a church’s life cycle demands death at some point, but I disagree with that assessment. Sometimes a church needs to replant and start over. Sometimes they need to merge with another church. Revitalization is a possibility, in my opinion, for any church because of Matthew 16:18—they are Christ’s church.
What is one key that pastors and church leaders must grasp if they want their churches to have new life?
Churches and leaders must be willing to embrace change in order to revitalize. The church does not exist to embrace culture but to engage culture. The church will never engage culture if it resists change.
What is the greatest challenge American churches face today? How can they overcome that challenge?
The greatest challenge is discovering the changes necessary to help the church engage culture and then embrace those changes congregationally. It is not about just changing methods, styles, or programs. It is about changing the mindset that the community exists for the church and redirecting the church to exist for the community. That one change in mindset will ReClaim the church.
How do you hope readers grow as a result of reading this book?
I have several desires for this book.
- That people will not give up on the church, especially their church.
- That readers will understand that revitalization is a process, not a destination. It takes work to ReClaim a church.
- That the local church is worth ReClaiming.
- That readers will evaluate their church’s history, learn from it, and make the necessary adjustments so that they will not repeat the sins of the past and will create a culture of change and growth in the church.