Five Star begins to penetrate MBC churches
By Allen Palmeri
January 24, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY – The Five Star Church Strategy, which is designed to help revitalize the Sunday School ministries of Missouri Baptist churches, will enter its third full year in March with an emphasis on evangelism and spiritual development.
With 25 churches having expressed a deep interest in adopting the strategy, and a “prime time” teaching period of February through May when the material will be introduced to more churches, Bruce Morrison, director, Sunday School & Discipleship Team of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), is sensing that Five Star is pushing beyond the visionary stage and advancing into more of the actual application.
“Now we’re moving into what should be going on in the classroom,” Morrison said. “Where the nuts and bolts really come in is when a church invites us in to do the strategy with them.”
Morrison said his team will not be going on a March tour of the state as it has the last two years to promote the material. Instead, directors of missions have been contacted and asked to sponsor the training at their convenience. So far, a combination of five churches and associations has responded to this new method by inviting the MBC team in to speak early this year.
The team will travel throughout Missouri to give a two-hour presentation on the merits of Five Star. One hour will be on evangelism, which most Missouri Baptist churches indicate is their primary weakness. The second hour will cover spiritual development, or discipleship. Morrison calls this “reaching and teaching,” the first two points of the Five Star plan. The idea is to help spur healthy church growth.
“The best way for a church to grow is to start new units in the Sunday School,” Morrison said. “To do that, you have to have a vibrant Sunday School that is reaching out, touching their community, and bringing people into the church. We’re not doing a good job of that.
“If we reach them and bring them to something that has value and excellence in the area of teaching, we’ll keep them.”
The long-range goal for the effectiveness of Five Star is to identify churches where the strategy has tangibly made a difference.
“Our goal would be to have a model – a church that has started the Five Star process and gone far enough that the association can point other churches in their association to it,” Morrison said.
One church that Morrison’s team has helped through the Five Star process decided to start an outreach process. Instead of never going out on visitation, the church is now going once a month.
Another church in a depressed area of the state has developed a renewed vision for reaching people in their town through the Five Star emphasis, Morrison said. A similar story is unfolding in central Missouri as the primary Southern Baptist church in town is refusing to die.
“They are getting an excitement about the potential that they have in their community,” Morrison said. “They really did not realize that they had been moving backwards for so many years because it is so insidious. It’s like the frog in the kettle. If the heat’s turned up little by little, finally it’s too late. Well, we’re finding some churches that are like that.”
Morrison said the next two points of the Five Star strategy, fellowship and ministry, may be combined within the 2007 MBC emphasis. Plans for next year are being discussed, he said. The fifth point of Five Star is worship, with “Five Star” referring to the five functions of the church.