July 29, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – Help is on the way for some struggling Missouri Baptist churches.
Kenny Qualls, an associate executive director for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), has invited a renowned Texas church strategist to come to Missouri this fall and share with churches how they can turn back to growth and ministry.
Harvey Kneisel, a member of the staff at First Baptist Church, Houston, will be featured at a directors of missions conference, Oct. 6-8, at the Best Western Hotel in Jefferson City. He will provide different models and discuss tools that churches can use to reverse their declining status.
Kneisel has been a Southern Baptist pastor and foreign missionary for more than 40 years. One of his pastorates – Oak Ridge Baptist Church, Spring, Texas – was recognized as the fastest-growing church in Texas over a five-year period. While serving for the last 10 years as minister of missions at First Baptist, Houston, he has helped several churches regain vitality.
"We will be working a strategy through our directors of missions and other churches," Qualls said. "We hope to have that strategy in place by October. The Lord has used Harvey Kneisel to help reverse the declining trend for churches in Houston — and some were to the point of death. Some were running from 800 to 1,000 people and had dropped down to 20."
Kneisel said he is looking forward to working with Missouri churches.
"The secret to reviving a declining church," Kneisel said, "is to get them to see that a transition church has to reach the ‘now’ community. You can’t reach people that moved away 25 years ago!"
Kneisel said reversing the trend sometimes requires radical surgery and drastic change for a church.
"Some churches die," he added. "But that happens because people do not reach the community where the church was planted. God doesn’t change his mind. He planted that church for one reason and that was to carry out the Great Commission."
Qualls said any Missouri Baptist church can determine if it fits into the plateau category.
"The Southern Baptist Convention considers growing churches as those that experience a 10 percent increase in worship attendance over a five-year period. If a church is not doing this, it has either reached a plateau or is in decline," Qualls said.
"We (the MBC) want to start new churches, but we also want to do all we can to help some of our struggling or declining churches – all for the glory of God."
DOMs wanting more information about the October conference may call Barbara Long at the MBC at 1-800-736-6227, ext. 601.