Remissioning: Revitalizing the Modern Church with Purpose and Passion

Imagine a church bursting with renewed energy, passion, and a clear sense of purpose. This is the promise of remissioning. In an era where many congregations struggle to stay vibrant and relevant, remissioning offers a …


Imagine a church bursting with renewed energy, passion, and a clear sense of purpose. This is the promise of remissioning. In an era where many congregations struggle to stay vibrant and relevant, remissioning offers a pathway to revitalization by realigning with God’s mission. Let’s dive into what remissioning is, why it’s essential, and how it can transform churches today.

What is Remissioning?

Remissioning, a term coined by Dr. Chris Backert, focuses on rejuvenating local congregations by helping them rediscover and commit to God’s mission. Unlike reengineering, which tweaks existing systems, or revival, which depends on miraculous intervention, remissioning is about a fundamental reorganization of church life around a divine purpose.

The Concept of Remissioning

The concept of remissioning is rooted in the belief that churches should operate as mission-focused entities rather than merely religious institutions. This means that every aspect of church life, from worship services to community outreach, is designed with the mission of God in mind. Remissioning calls for a shift in perspective, from maintaining traditions to actively pursuing the vision that God has for the church and its community.

Historical Context

Historically, the Christian church has undergone various transformations to stay relevant and impactful. From the early church’s mission-driven gatherings in homes to the institutionalization of Christianity under Constantine, the church has evolved in response to changing times and needs. The Reformation, led by figures like Martin Luther, was another significant period of remissioning, focusing on returning to the core tenets of Christianity. Today, remissioning seeks to address contemporary challenges by fostering a renewed focus on mission.

The Need for Remissioning

Modern churches face numerous challenges, from dwindling attendance to societal shifts that question traditional values. Remissioning addresses these issues by refocusing efforts on the core mission of the church – to serve and spread God’s word. This approach not only revitalizes the congregation but also re-engages the community.

Addressing Decline in Attendance

One of the most pressing issues for many churches today is the decline in attendance. Various factors contribute to this trend, including societal secularization, generational shifts, and changing lifestyles. Remissioning addresses this by making the church’s mission more compelling and relevant to contemporary life. By focusing on serving the community and addressing real-world issues, churches can attract individuals who are seeking meaningful connections and purpose.

Navigating Societal Shifts

Society today is vastly different from what it was even a few decades ago. Issues such as gender equality, racial justice, and environmental concerns are at the forefront of public consciousness. Many traditional churches struggle to engage with these topics in a way that resonates with modern congregants. Remissioning encourages churches to engage with these societal shifts from a mission-focused perspective, ensuring that the church remains relevant and impactful.

Re-engaging the Community

A critical aspect of remissioning is community engagement. A church that is actively involved in its community is better positioned to understand and meet the needs of its members. This involves not just outreach programs, but also partnerships with local organizations, participation in community events, and a genuine commitment to serving the local area. Remissioning transforms the church from an isolated institution into a vital community hub.

The Process of Remissioning

Remissioning is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires a tailored approach that considers the unique context and needs of each congregation. However, there are common steps that churches can follow to embark on this journey.

Assessment and Reflection

The first step in remissioning is a thorough assessment of the current state of the church. This involves honest reflection on what is working and what is not. It requires input from all levels of the church community, from leadership to lay members. This stage is crucial for identifying the areas that need change and for setting a baseline for future progress.

Vision Casting

Once the assessment is complete, the next step is to cast a vision for the future. This involves articulating a clear and compelling mission that aligns with God’s purpose. Vision casting should be an inclusive process that engages the entire congregation. It is essential that everyone understands and buys into the vision, as this will guide all future efforts.

Strategic Planning

With a clear vision in place, the next step is strategic planning. This involves setting specific, measurable goals and developing a plan to achieve them. Strategic planning should be flexible and adaptive, allowing for adjustments as circumstances change. It is also important to ensure that the plan is realistic and achievable, with timelines and responsibilities clearly defined.

Implementation and Action

The implementation phase is where the rubber meets the road. This involves putting the strategic plan into action and making the necessary changes to align the church with its mission. This may include restructuring leadership roles, reallocating resources, launching new programs, or discontinuing activities that do not support the mission.

Evaluation and Adjustment

Remissioning is an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation and adjustment. This involves monitoring progress, assessing the impact of changes, and making necessary adjustments. Regular feedback from the congregation is essential for this stage, as it ensures that the church remains on track and responsive to the needs of its members.

The Transformative Impact of Remissioning

When done effectively, remissioning can have a profound impact on a church and its community. It can transform a struggling congregation into a vibrant and thriving community of faith.

Spiritual Renewal

One of the most significant impacts of remissioning is spiritual renewal. By realigning with God’s mission, congregants often experience a renewed sense of purpose and passion for their faith. This spiritual renewal can lead to deeper personal relationships with God, stronger community bonds, and a more vibrant worship experience.

Increased Engagement

Remissioning can lead to increased engagement at all levels of the church. When people feel that their church is making a real difference in the world, they are more likely to get involved. This increased engagement can take many forms, from volunteering for outreach programs to participating in small groups and other church activities.

Community Transformation

A church that is effectively remissioned can have a transformative impact on its community. By addressing local needs and working in partnership with other organizations, the church can become a powerful force for positive change. This not only benefits the community but also enhances the church’s reputation and influence.

Growth and Sustainability

Ultimately, remissioning can lead to growth and sustainability. By focusing on mission and relevance, churches can attract new members and retain existing ones. This growth is not just about numbers but also about building a healthy, sustainable community that can thrive for generations to come.

Case Studies in Remissioning

To illustrate the impact of remissioning, let’s look at a few case studies of churches that have successfully undergone this transformation.

Case Study 1: The Urban Church

An urban church faced declining attendance and financial difficulties. The leadership decided to embark on a remissioning journey. They began by assessing the needs of their community and discovered that affordable housing was a significant issue. The church partnered with local organizations to launch a housing initiative, providing affordable housing to low-income families. This initiative not only addressed a critical need but also revitalized the church. Attendance increased, and the church became a respected and influential community leader.

Case Study 2: The Suburban Church

A suburban church struggled to engage younger generations. The leadership realized that their traditional programs and services were not resonating with millennials and Gen Z. Through remissioning, they refocused their efforts on creating relevant and engaging content for younger audiences. They launched a series of contemporary worship services, small groups focused on young professionals, and outreach programs targeting local schools and colleges. The result was a significant increase in attendance and engagement from younger congregants.

Case Study 3: The Rural Church

A rural church faced the challenge of an aging congregation and limited resources. The leadership decided to remission the church by focusing on agricultural and environmental issues, which were critical to their community. They started a community garden and offered workshops on sustainable farming practices. This not only attracted new members but also provided valuable resources to the community. The church became a hub for community activity and saw renewed growth and vitality.

Challenges and Considerations

While remissioning offers many benefits, it is not without its challenges. Churches embarking on this journey must be prepared to navigate potential obstacles.

Resistance to Change

One of the most significant challenges is resistance to change. People often feel attached to the way things have always been done and may be reluctant to embrace new ideas. It is essential to address these concerns with empathy and clear communication. Engaging the congregation in the vision-casting process and demonstrating the potential benefits of remissioning can help alleviate resistance.

Resource Constraints

Another challenge is resource constraints. Remissioning often requires financial investment, time, and human resources. Churches must be realistic about their capacity and prioritize initiatives that have the most significant impact. Creative solutions, such as partnerships with other organizations and leveraging volunteer support, can help overcome resource limitations.

Maintaining Focus

Maintaining focus on the mission can be challenging, especially when dealing with the day-to-day demands of church life. It is essential to regularly revisit the mission and vision to ensure that all activities align with the church’s goals. Leadership must be committed to keeping the mission at the forefront and guiding the congregation in this direction.

Measuring Success

Measuring the success of remissioning efforts can be difficult. Traditional metrics, such as attendance and financial giving, may not fully capture the impact of mission-focused initiatives. Churches should develop a range of indicators that reflect their mission and vision, including community impact, spiritual growth, and engagement levels.


Remissioning offers a transformative pathway for churches seeking to stay vibrant and relevant in today’s world. By realigning with God’s mission, churches can experience spiritual renewal, increased engagement, community transformation, and sustainable growth. While the journey may present challenges, the potential rewards make it a worthwhile endeavor. As churches embrace the principles of remissioning, they can become powerful agents of God’s love and grace in their communities, making a lasting impact for generations to come.


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