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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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5 Things I Hated Doing as a Pastor

In my previous two posts I wrote about 6 Things I Hated Hearing as a Pastor followed by 7 Things I Loved Hearing as a Pastor. In today’s post I want to explore 5 Things I Hated DOING as a Pastor. Keep in mind that I loved being a pastor and I loved most the tasks that came along with the position, but I didn’t love everything.

5 Things I Hated Doing as a Pastor

1. Preaching on difficult topics. I preached on marriage, divorce, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, abortion, tithing, racism, prejudice, laziness, gossip, and numerous other difficult subjects, but I didn’t love doing it. As a pastor, I preferred to preach about Jesus and the encouraging passages that abound, but I knew that I was accountable to God to preach the whole Bible even when the topics were not popular or culturally acceptable.

…even when the topics were not popular or culturally acceptable.”

2. Visiting new parents in the hospital. I didn’t really hate visiting new parents, but it always felt a little awkward. I felt better visiting when the mother and the father were both present or when my wife could join me. As their pastor, I wanted to let them know that we celebrated with them on the birth of their child, but at the same time, I wanted to respect their need for privacy. As a man, I was certain that I didn’t understand everything that the new mother was going through physically and emotionally, so I wanted to give her space for rest and healing.

3. Addressing church conflict. When I faced conflict during my early years of ministry I simply prayed and hoped that it would go away. As the pastor, I began to realize that I had to lean into conflict and work towards reconciliation, but it was something that I always dreaded.

…I began to realize that I had to lean into conflict…”

4. Asking for help. In the perfect church world, all the church members would jump in and volunteer when needed. Since that rarely happened, I often had to personally ask people for help.

5. Administering church discipline. The Bible clearly teaches that there are times when church discipline is required. The purpose of discipline is to help the offender discover his sin and his need for repentance. Even when church discipline was appropriate and best, it was always very difficult.

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7 Things I Loved Hearing as a Pastor

In last week’s post, I talked about 6 Things I Hated Hearing As a Pastor. Fortunately in the churches I served as Senior Pastor, I heard far more words of encouragement than words of discouragement. Here are a few of the things I loved hearing most as a pastor.

7 Things I Loved Hearing as a Pastor

1. Pastor. I loved being called “pastor.” I’ve had no higher calling or greater privilege in my career than serving as a pastor of a local church. When someone said “Pastor Steve” or “Pastor Rice,” it always warmed my heart and made me grateful to God.

I loved being called “pastor.”

2. Pastor, I’m praying for you. You’ve heard the saying “I need the prayers and you need the practice.” I don’t know if the person who offered to pray for me needed to practice, but I knew that I needed their prayers. What a privilege that they would take time to pray for me!

3. Pray for me pastor. It was always humbling when members of the church or community asked me to pray for them. They trusted that my prayers would make a difference in their lives–what a blessing this was!

4. Thank you pastor. Words of gratitude were always welcome. I did not serve as a pastor in order to receive the praises of men and women, but since I’m human, it felt great to be appreciated.

…since I’m human, it felt great to be appreciated.

5. Pastor, I’ll be glad to help. Some individuals were always ready to jump in and help, always ready to say yes. They were always willing to give of their time, finances, talents, and gifts.

6. Pastor, tell me how to become a Christian. The “Good News” never got old. Possibly the highest privilege of a pastor was being present when a person placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Heaven was present and eternity was changed!

7. Pastor, help me know how to read the Bible. The Bible is the most important key to spiritual growth. Through our reading and study of the Bible, we hear the Word of the Lord. I always found great joy in helping church members know more about God’s Word.

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6 Things I Hated Hearing as a Pastor

I recently read Dr. Thom Rainer’s excellent post entitled Six Traits of a Church DisrupterHis post made me think of things that I’ve heard from church members during my years serving as a pastor. Keep in mind, that I’ve been blessed to hear great encouragement and much-needed, Godly advice through the years, but these are things that I always hated to hear as a pastor.

6 Things I Hated Hearing as a Pastor

1. People are saying. This usually mean’t that the person talking to me had a personal concern about something. As I matured as a pastor I began to ask “what people?” “Who exactly?” “Please ask them to come and talk with me because I would be happy to talk to them in person about his matter.”

…what people? Who exactly?”

2. You should have told me about this. It’s true that communication is extremely important and there were times that I didn’t communicate well, but usually this phrase came from someone who simply wanted to control decisions. Although we went through all the proper church channels in making the decision, they were upset that their opinion was not sought.

3. You should preach on ___________. Church members should feel the freedom to offer sermon topics to their pastor. Personally, I’ve been overly defensive at times in this area. It wasn’t the suggestion itself, but the motive and spirit behind the suggestion that really got under my skin.

…really got under my skin.”

4. If you’re in the area. “If you’re in the area, go by and see my uncle that I haven’t spoken to in 25 years.” This type of request always made me feel guilty. Usually they were referring to someone who lived hours away. I made a few of these visits through the years, but they often felt very awkward. The person making the “suggestion” was actually the one who needed to go see their uncle instead of asking me to do so.

5. No one came and saw me in the hospital. I know that I failed to make some hospital visits through the years, but this statement usually came from someone who never let the church know that they were in the hospital. With the new privacy laws surrounding one’s medical records, a church has NO WAY of knowing unless someone tells them.

6. That will never work. Sometimes this phrase is accompanied with “our last pastor tried that and it didn’t work.” The fact that the last pastor also felt led to try the same thing is evidence that God is leading in that direction. Very likely the timing just wasn’t right when the last pastor tried it. This phrase usually comes from individuals who do not like change.

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