What Is Church Revitalization?

In my role as Kentucky Baptist Convention Church Consulting & Revitalization Team Leader, I’m often asked about revitalization. How do we define it? How can a church experience it? How can we lead it?

When I began my current KBC role, Dr. Kenneth Priest and I launched the national SBC Revitalization Network that now includes 41 autonomous state conventions. This group consists of Southern Baptist State Convention leaders who have responsibility in the area of revitalization. I currently lead the group as chair of the leadership team that includes Dwayne Lee (Ohio), Randy Millwood (Maryland/Delaware), Keith Durham (Arizona), and Ralph Neighbor (California).

Although many excellent definitions exist for church revitalization, we created the one below. We firmly believe that revitalization of a local church is marked by the components found in our definition.

The supernatural work of God that restores health in a church, evidenced by submission to God’s Word, right relationships among members, and a renewed commitment to Great Commission ministry. (SBC Revitalization Network)

5 Marks of Church Revitalization

  1. Revitalization is a supernatural work of God. Yes, we play a part, but ultimately it is the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus said, “…I will build my church” (Matthew 16).
  2. Revitalization restores health in a church. Churches in need of revitalization are almost always plagued with poor spiritual health.
  3. Revitalization involves submission to the Scriptures. A key, repeated component of churches that experience revitalization is a renewed commitment to the authority of God’s Word.
  4. Revitalization often involves conflict resolution and forgiveness. Struggling churches often have conflicts within and/or between members that have existed for years. Resolving those conflicts is paramount to a sustained season of church revitalization.
  5. Revitalization focuses on the Great Commission. Churches desiring revitalization give proper place to The Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded…” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV).

Studies show that as high as 70% of SBC churches are plateaued or declining. There are many prayers to be prayed and much work to be done if we are to see churches experience revitalization. As part of our effort, the team I lead at the KBC recently released a book entitled, Lead to Revitalize: 15 Practices of a Revitalization Leader. If you have questions about revitalization, contact your state convention leader and they will be happy to assist you in this important ministry area. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions and/or suggestions.

Calling Out the Called

Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2 (NKJV)

Early in his tenure as Executive Director-Treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Dr. Todd Gray called 120 KBC churches who were searching for a senior pastor at the time. He was reminded that mid-size and large churches usually have no problem finding qualified candidates, but smaller churches often face great difficulty. He heard that some churches were so desperate that they were considering non-Southern Baptist candidates.

Dr. Gray decided to call for a statewide initiative to address the need. He asked me to lead the initiative along with selected members of the CCR Team. We gladly accepted the assignment because of the potential benefits to KBC churches. At this point, I am traveling around the state talking and listening to leaders about this challenge. It will take all of us working together to see positive movement in this area.

I am traveling around the state talking and listening to leaders about this challenge. It will take all of us working together to see positive movement in this area.

As a part of the assignment, Dr. Gray shared four main convictions about the need.

Dr. Gray’s 4 “Calling Out the Called” Convictions

  1. Men sitting in the pews of nearby area churches can best meet these needs.
  2. Many of these men are professionals and deeply committed Christians who have abilities to teach, preach, and lead.
  3. These men need to hear the call of God, answer the call of God, and receive basic skills training them how to begin their ministry.
  4. The KBC needs to lead out in this area to help churches meet the need.

This initiative will be a multi-year project, but we believe there is urgency. As a result, we hope to make immediate strides with a goal of announcing key initiative elements at the 2021 KBC Annual Meeting in Elizabethtown on November 9, 2021.

Please join us in praying for God’s blessing and wisdom. The harvest is indeed great, but more laborers are needed. PRAY that God will send laborers for His work and for His glory!

PRAYER: Dear Father, please send laborers into your churches in Kentucky to reap a harvest that will fulfill your purpose for those churches and bring you glory! And please give us wisdom to know what our part should be in this glorious work. Amen!

New KBC Ministry Job Board

I’m really excited to announce that we have developed a brand new Kentucky Baptist Convention Ministry Job Board. The site has a fresh new look, but more importantly, it will serve churches and ministers more effectively. Here are a few of the features of the new site:

  • Churches can post positions directly on the site. A church can personalize their listing by adding a video, logo, website, and personal information of various kinds.
  • Ministers can post a resume directly on the site. Along with their resume, they can include a sermon video, social media accounts, along with other personal information.
  • Ministers can search for positions through a variety of filters including location, position, size, and salary.
  • Churches can search for resumes posted on the site and include them in their ministry search.
  • The new site will provide faster service and more precise search results.

Since the Ministry Job Board is brand new, it will take a while to populate the site with ministry positions and resumes. In a sense, the new site cuts out the middle person for faster, more accurate results. Of course, we’re still here to assist with any aspect of the process.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Peggy Berry at [email protected] or at 502-432-6944.

Best Bible Reading Plans

What is the most important spiritual discipline? What is the one thing that is paramount when it comes to maturing as a follower of Christ? I believe the Bible is the key. I’m not saying that it is the only thing that is important, but I am saying that it is most important!

Many Christians have followed Christ for decades, yet have never read the Bible in its entirety. There are several printed plans, web-based plans, and Bible apps that make it easier than ever.

4 Types of Bible Reading Plans

1. Printed plans. There are numerous ways to print off a Bible reading plan online. One of the best sites is the The Navigators. They utilize the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading plans which are some of my favorites.

2. One-Year-Bible. This Bible is designed for those who want to read through the Bible in a calendar year.

3. Online plans. Dozens (probably hundreds) of sites exist online that are dedicated to reading the Bible through in a year. Some will even email you each day with the assigned reading. Here are three good ones:  Christianity.com, BibleGateway.com, and BacktotheBible.org.

4. Bible apps. I utilize several great Bible apps for Bible reading and study. They all have Bible reading plans that are very helpful. My favorite Bible apps include: You Version, ESV, and Logos.

3 Keys to Following God

One of my favorite books of the Bible is the Gospel of Mark. I like his “just the facts” approach to the Gospel story. I had a little laugh recently while reading the following passage:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”  Mark 1:35-38 (NIV)

Doesn’t it seem odd to you that Jesus left as soon as the crowds began to gather? Typically, most leaders are hoping to draw a big crowd, but Jesus did something quite unusual at that point. When His ratings spiked–He took a hike! When the numbers were high–he said goodbye. When the crowds grew–he bid them adieu.

Doesn’t that strike you as being unusual? Why did Jesus do that? What can we learn from this story? Here are three keys to following God as a true believer.

3 Keys to Following God

1. God’s plan is rarely like our plan. He knows best, so we should trust Him and follow Him. He often leads us to do the unexpected…..the unpredictable…..the unthinkable!

2. We should never allow others to shape us by their expectations. I am a people-pleaser and the opinions of others matter greatly to me. But, I know that I should seek to live for an audience of one. Although we want to be good examples to those around us, ultimately, we should simply try to please God.

3. We should never exchange good for God. Some things are good to do, but they are not the things God has led us to do–they are good, but they are not God. The challenge is to live in such a way that we can discern the difference.

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Birthdays Are Awesome

Today we are celebrating the birthday of my sweet wife. We have been married 39 years and our time together just keeps getting better. She is the best wife I’ve ever had (wink, wink) and she is the best MiMi on the planet according to our grandsons.

Today, I was thinking about her birthday and the celebrations we have experienced through the years on these special occasions. I believe that birthdays should serve as times of celebration, but they should also cause us to reflect, refocus, revision, and regroup.

4 Awesome Things to Do on Your Birthday

  1. Reflect. As we reflect back over our lives, we see God’s hand at work. He protected us and guided us along the way when we often were not aware that He was doing so. He helped us make decisions and connections that led us to where we are today.
  2. Refocus. A few years ago I began to refocus on my physical fitness. I am striving to be disciplined once again in the areas of exercise and eating. I am also striving to be more disciplined spiritually as well. Birthdays are a great time to refocus on the things that matter most.
  3. Revision. Today, as I write, I ask myself, “where I am going?” “What is my vision for the next 5-10 years of my life?” I believe we can all benefit from time-to-time by revisiting the visions God has given us.
  4. Regroup. Have you ever blown it? Although I am a pretty decent golfer, I once scored a “10” on one hole! I was even par on the round before hitting the ball out-of-bounds on hole 7. As a result of additional mistakes on the hole, I recorded a double-digit number on the card. Needless to say, I needed to regroup after that. Life is a lot like that. Invariably, there will be times when we need to stop and regroup. Birthdays can serve as great reminders along those lines.

I once scored a “10” on one hole……life is a lot like that!

Do you have a birthday soon? Eat some cake, blow out some candles, have a blast with your friends and family, but take a few minutes to consider the things I mentioned here on my wife’s 39th (wink, wink) birthday!

4 Steps to Forgiving Those I Hate

How can we forgive people we hate? How can we show grace to those we can’t stomach? The honest truth is that we can’t! In our own strength, we are unable to forgive those who have hurt us deeply, but with God’s help, it is possible.

4 Steps to Forgiving Those I Hate

1. Turn our hurts over to God. We should remind ourselves that nothing happens that God does not allow. As a result we should acknowledge our hurts and ask God to help us with them. He may choose to teach us through them and shape us into the person He wants us to be. God never wastes a hurt!

God never wastes a hurt!

2. Ask God to transform our hate to love. In time, God will change our hearts to match His heart if we allow Him to do so. We should pray and ask God to start the process of healing and forgiveness in our hearts.

3. Read what God’s Word says about forgiveness. The Bible is replete with verses on this topic. Reading what God says is a major part of how He moves us towards a heart of forgiveness. Here are a couple of passages on the topic:

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) 

“He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:  Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'”  Luke 11:2-4 (NIV) 

4. Remember that we sinned against God. God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it, so we should forgive others when they don’t deserve it. We are never more like God than when we grant forgiveness to undeserving people.

Don’t spend the rest of your life without rest in your life!

If you’re struggling with hard feelings toward someone . . . if you’re mad, hurt, bitter, or all the above rolled into one, then let it go! Forgive! Do it for their sake! Do it for your sake! Do it for the Lord! Don’t spend the rest of your life without rest in your life. Unforgiveness can slow down or even sidetrack your spiritual growth.

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