“Aren’t Church revitalization and replanting really the same thing?” To answer simply, no they are not the same. While both may be options for a struggling church, they are fundamentally different-even though they both seek to bring a struggling or dying church back to life.
The story of the Exodus helps us greatly in understanding the impossible task of leading, shaping, strengthening, and pastoring a church. Throughout the book of Exodus, Moses records in great detail the condition of the people. They are most assuredly a broken and exhausted people. He is the prophet who holds this great promise for them, a promise given to them by the Word of the Lord, but a promise in the face of such massive trial by a short sighted people will prove to be Moses' greatest joy and greatest place for frustration as well. In steps Jethro, the father-in-law to Moses, and he has something to offer.
Paul instinctively recognized that an entropic principle was at work in the church from the very beginning. Church revitalization was an integral and prominent strategy in all three of his recorded missionary journeys. Without the constant work of reformation and revitalization, local churches will disintegrate into gospel lethargy and ineffectiveness. When this impulse for church revitalization is coupled with his constant agony for the wellbeing of the early churches evidenced in his epistles, Paul’s stature as a church revitalizer is profoundly evident.