From a Pastor's Desk

A series of opinion articles from rostered ministers and lay leaders from our Synod.


How to Revitalize our Church

Apr 18, 2018

By the Rev. John Krahn








“I think the church will close.” Three years ago, this was our bishop’s honest assessment of the church I had just agreed to serve as Interim Pastor.  After being there a week, I could not disagree with his thinking. Neither the bishop nor I wanted another one of our churches to be closing, but things looked pretty dire. I came in November. By Easter, we would run out of money and have to close unless something miraculous happened.

Three weeks after I arrived came the Sunday for the annual Sunday School Christmas Pageant.  I had only noticed a total of four children in our Sunday School. But the pageant had gone on for sixty years, and the woman in charge was determined to have a Sunday School Christmas Pageant. So she also recruited four of her own grandchildren who were attending another church.  The shepherds were three men in their seventies, all dressed in costume. It turned out to be a pretty decent pageant.

During the announcements that Sunday, I mentioned that one of our members had a great way for us to reduce the cost of our new offering envelopes. Instead of spending $1,200, as we did in the past, we now would only be spending $600. At the end of the service, out came the visiting grandmother of our three kings.  As I shook her hand, she said to me, “I’ll donate the money for the envelopes.” I responded enthusiastically, “God bless you!” She replied, “I do not believe in God.”  That week she delivered a check for $1000 to the church.

“God, if you can motivate an atheist to donate a thousand dollars to our struggling church, I think we will make it,” I prayed that week. With much prayer and hard work, along with God’s continued blessing, in nine months this church was debt free, had over $125,000 in the bank, had nearly doubled its weekly giving, saw a 25% increase in attendance, in addition had $45,000 worth of refurbishment done to its sanctuary, and received a new baby grand piano, all donated by its members. Then a few months later, it called a full time pastor.  

Thirty some years earlier I had written six books which were published. Knowing this, the vicar who had been serving with me at this church said to me, “Pastor, you need to write a book on what God has done here.” So I did. It is titled, From Surviving to Thriving – A Practical Guide to Revitalize Your Church.”  It was kindly endorsed by Dr. Philip Krey, the former president of the former Philadelphia Seminary and The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, the former bishop of the MNYS along with several other major church leaders from multiple denominations.

What pleases me most is that this book has already been read by thousands of people and has helped many struggling churches all over the United States and Canada. Pastors as well as laypeople and entire Church Councils are reading and benefiting from it. This fall I have been invited to be the presenter at the annual convention of the third largest Lutheran body in Canada.  Like the United States, many Canadian churches are struggling as well. Having read my book, the bishop of this Canadian church body has invited me to be their presenter on the subject of church revitalization.

The fine reception of From Surviving to Thriving has encouraged me to write several others books including, Living a Happier Life – At Every Age, Brief Prayers for Busy People, and Special Stories Along Life’s Journey. In a few months, my next book, Love- It’s the Greatest, will be published by CSS Publishing Company. It is based upon one of the most popular chapters in the Bible, I Corinthians 13. 

If you are interested, the easiest way to acquire one of these books is to go to Amazon and type my name “John H. Krahn” in the search engine. This will bring you to my author’s page which lists all of my current books.

In my book, Living A Happier Life at Every Age, I encourage everyone to live a relevant life right down to his or her final breath. Why shouldn’t the final act of our lives be the very best one?  I am an “officially” retired pastor now for 10 years. I hope God has at least a few more challenges for me to enjoy. After thirty years, it took an atheist to get me back to writing again.  Our God is full of wonderful surprises.

I do not know when my final act will come, but I pray that it will come in the middle of my doing something worthwhile in our Lord’s service.

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