KANSAS CITY – More than 40 revitalization leaders from 13 state Baptist conventions met March 20-21 at Midwestern Seminary to focus on best practices and strategies to collaborate with churches seeking new life or replanting.
Gary Mathes, who works in area of church revitalization for the MBC, said that everyone there was all too familiar with the statistics that say 80-85 percent of churches are either plateued or declining.
“We all have a great desire to change that trajectory,” he said. “The reality is that although our church planting efforts are robust, we are not seeing a significant growth of the number of churches in our convention because nearly as many are closing each year.”
For some of those churches, meeting with a consultant like Mathes might be enough to reorient them on a path to grow and continued gospel ministry. For others, it might be in the church’s and community’s best interests to merge and leave a legacy with a stronger, healthier church. For others, replanting a totally new church in that location/facility may be the best solution. Whichever route God leads, Mathes can help the congregation through those processess.
“I am well aware of the pain of seeing churches close,” Mathes said. “The church I was baptized and grew up in, where I was married, and preached my first sermon, no longer exists. I want to do all that I can to help churches avoid experiencing that, and instead find a way to once again be a vibrant, healthy, gospel-centric, kingdom-expanding congregation.”
The state leaders heard from Mark Clifton, of NAMB, regarding what factors help determine when churches are able to successfully go through revitalization efforts or when they need to consider a merger or replant. Professor and Dean of Midwestern College, John Mark Yeats, shared an evaluation tool he developed to help churches leaders determine congregational health. Rodney Harrison, who helped Midwestern Seminary develop revitalization tracks, shared about principles of revitalization learned from the life and ministry of C.H Spurgeon in the library dedicated to the historic Baptist preacher.
For pastors and church leaders that have interest in revitalization, the Missouri Baptist Convention is partnering with associations in Southwest Missouri to host Renovate Missouri on Saturday, May 6th at First Baptist Church, Branson. More information and registration is online at www.tcsba.com.