Revitalization Pastors – Part One

Drinking Water
The Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Dr. Paul Chitwood, developed a structure that allows us to place a strong emphasis on church revitalization by creating a team called the Church Consulting & Revitalization Team.  On our 21-member team there are six men who serve as Regional Consultants.   They live in the region assigned to them and work directly with pastors, churches, church workers, Directors of Missions, and local associations.

Over the last four years, they noticed that pastors who had successfully led their churches to experience revitalization possessed consistent characteristics. In the next two posts, I’m going to look at those characteristics.  The list only scratches the surface, but these ten characteristics stand out to our consultants.

10 CHARACTERISTICS OF A REVITALIZATION PASTOR

1.  Revitalization pastors lean into conflict.  Some pastors avoid conflict at all costs.  They may develop a brilliant, God-given vision for the future of the church, but they scrap it just as soon as one or two people are critical.  Revitalization pastors do not necessarily like conflict, but they are willing to face it in order to fulfill the God-given vision.

2.  Revitalization pastors are willing to take risks.  It’s risky to help a church understand that they are being ineffective.  It’s rarely pleasant to confront difficult people or to seek restoration of a broken relationship, but revitalization pastors do what’s right instead of merely doing what’s easy and convenient.

3.  Revitalization pastors work hard on church relationships.  As a child, most of us learned the little hand visual that accompanied the saying “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and here are the people.”  As adults, we know that the symbolism is lacking because the church is not a building; the church IS the people.  Revitalization pastors understand that building a church means building people.

4.  Revitalization pastors take the lead in evangelism.  A church cannot be revitalized without reaching new people with the Gospel.  A revitalization pastor places emphasis on evangelism and leads by example in this area.  Methods of evangelism vary from church to church and community to community, but churches experiencing revitalization are making new converts for Christ.

5.  Revitalization pastors lead with a vision.  Visions are sometimes written, sometimes spoken, and sometimes written and spoken!  Revitalization pastors have a God-given vision for the church’s future and they share it regularly with the church.

Here’s a survey that will help you determine how well you are doing as a Revitalization Pastor. For more information please contact me.

Here’s a link to Part Two.

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2016 EQUIP Tour

Equip2016-StevesBlogDuring August 2016, the Kentucky Baptist Convention EQUIP TOUR is coming to a town near you!  The EQUIP TOUR could be described as a mini-Super Saturday.  The goal of the tour is to provide helpful, practical training that will equip believers to serve their KBC churches with confidence and with excellence.

On weeknights, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., we will provide training at eight different locations (listed below).  There should be at least one EQUIP TOUR stop within an hour’s drive of every church in Kentucky.

  • August 15 in Prestonsburg
  • August 16 in Russell
  • August 18 in Bardstown
  • August 22 in Somerset
  • August 23 in Glascow
  • August 25 in Walton
  • August 29 in Paducah
  • August 30 in Hopkinsville

Training will be provided in the following areas:

  • Women’s Ministry
  • Sunday School
  • Discipleship
  • Church Finances
  • Revitalization
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Youth Ministry
  • Worship and Music
  • Evangelism
  • Church Security

For more information, call the Church Consulting and Revitalization Team at (502) 489-3571 or toll-free in Kentucky (866) 489-3571, or send an email to [email protected]

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A Legal Guide for Protecting Your Church & Ministry

Gavel.2I recently wrote a blog that detailed 4 steps that every church should take to safeguard the church and the pastor in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. I’m sure I will be updating that blog many times as new information and resources come forward.

Two organizations that can be extremely helpful as you wrestle through issues related to this topic are the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. They recently teamed together to produce an extremely helpful document entitled, “Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lawsuits.” Dr. Russell Moore, President of the ERLC stated:

Considering just how fast culture is shifting on its views of sexuality and religious liberty, I am thrilled that the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is partnering with our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom to produce a trusted resource sure to help equip Christians and churches. In it, you’ll find trusted resources on how churches, Christian schools, and Christian ministries should navigate and prepare themselves for the changing culture and all the attendant legal challenges that come with it.

The document includes three key checklists–a checklist for churches, a checklist Christian schools, and a checklist for Christian Ministries. For example, the church checklist provides help in the following areas:

  • Statement of Faith
  • Religious Employment Criteria
  • Facility Use Policy
  • Formal Membership Policy
  • Marriage Policy

One of the most helpful features of this document is the Appendix which includes numerous sample documents. You can download this document for free on the ELRC website.

For more information and help, please check out our Kentucky Baptist Convention resource page. Also, feel free to contact me personally at [email protected] or at 502-489-3434.

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2015 Shepherding

Shepherding 2015Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)

I’m really excited about the 2015 SHEPHERDING conference being held at a new Lexington location, Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa on January 29-31.  Baptist Health and the Kentucky Baptist Convention continue our long-standing partnership to provide an event that will bring a time of Godly refreshment to pastors, chaplains, and Directors of Missions.  The conference is being held at a NEW LOCATION this year, the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa, in an effort to provide a relaxed setting as well as a relaxed pace.  The hotel staff is among the best you will find in the business and we are grateful that they are hosting us for this year’s event.

As always, we should have a packed house again this year.  The lineup of presenters and worship leaders is outstanding.  Our featured speakers include:

  • Dr. Kevin Ezell (North American Mission Board)
  • Dr. Dan Summerlin (Lone Oak FBC, Paducah)
  • Rev. Tom James (Eastwood BC, Bowling Green)
  • Dr. Carl Hurley (America’s Funniest Professor)
  • Mike Harland (Lifeway Worship)

In addition to those above who share in the plenary sessions, we will hear from several other excellent presenters during our breakout sessions.  If you plan to attend, please register as soon as possible because we are almost at full capacity.  You can register online today!  If you have any questions, please contact me (Steve Rice) at (502) 489-3571 or toll free in Kentucky at (866) 489-3571.

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4 Things That Should Happen in the First 7 Minutes in Our Churches Each Sunday

FourToday, as I continue discussing Nelson Searcy’s book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church, I will look at the 7-minute, pre-service period when first-time guests decide if they will return for a second visit. Searcy refers to this time as the time “from the street to the seat.” This is the time before the service even begins. Searcy says “Your pre-service mission is to make every effort to take your guests’ guard down and even put a smile on their face–before the service begins.

4 THINGS IN THE FIRST 7 MINUTES

  • GREETED: Welcomed with a smile. Searcy says we should memorize the sentence “everything speaks to first-time guests–everything.” He says we should strive for excellence and he defines excellence as “doing the best you can with what you’ve got.” Journey Church discovered from their surveys of first-time guests that one of the things they noticed and appreciated most were the smiling faces and the warm welcome as they entered the building. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A SMILE!
  • DIRECTED: Simply and politely shown to where they need to go. Guests should be directed either by a sign or a volunteer–preferably by both. When it comes to first-time guests, Searcy said the real estate axiom “location, location, location” should be replaced by “signs, signs, signs.” Searcy says that signs are the single best way to ensure that guests can find what they need. I strongly agree, but I think a church can overdo it in this area. You can get so many signs that none of the signs stand out. Having said that, I’ve only seen a couple of churches that had too many signs.
  • TREATED: Shown respect, and happily surprised with comfort food and a drink. Searcy says, “first-time guests want to feel respected and welcomed. They want to know that you are happy they’re there and that you are serious about making sure they have a good experience.” One of the best ways to convey that message is through food, but it should be well done. Searcy says, “Don’t skimp on food. This is not the area to try to save a nickel. Don’t halve foods to make them stretch. Don’t glare at the person who takes three donuts. Good food lets your guests know that you care enough to offer them something for free that will meet a need.” Provide a good, quality coffee with flavored creamers and large cups. Provide juice, bottled water, and a high quality donut. Some may also want to provide bagels and other alternatives.
  • SEATED: Led to comfortable, appropriate seats. If possible, guests should be led to a seat. It is often very awkward when they try to find a seat on their own. The usher will feel comfortable asking someone to slide over, but the first-time guests usually will not do so. Guests typically are among the last to enter. As a result, it is more difficult for them to find seats on their own. A great usher can strategically seat guests in sections that have people their age.

By the way, be sure to buy Searcy’s book, Fusion. We are only touching the highlights here, so you will want to read it from cover to cover. Here are a few of my other posts on similar topics.

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5 Core Values

The next two days we are participating in a staff retreat here at the Kentucky Baptist Convention. During our extended time together we are going to review and discuss the five core values that we hold dear as a staff–those things that are at the core of our organization that affects all of our decisions and interactions. I’m thankful and humbled to be a part of an organization that stresses these important areas because they are Biblical, Christ-honoring, and practical.

5 Core Values

1.  Trustworthy.  Can be relied upon as a resource to ease ministry pain, not create more.

 “Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.”  Proverbs 25:19

2.  Encouraging.  Finds joy in ministry, and in helping others find joy in theirs.

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”  Romans 14:13

3.  Accountable.  Strives to make a Kingdom difference; understands that ministry is not simply about activity, but on proclaiming and expanding the Kingdom of God.

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3:23

4.  Mature.  Actively responsible for his/her own spiritual formation.

“Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

5.  Sensitive.  Listens humbly to diverse voices, seeking understanding and reconciliation.

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:3 (HCSB)

 

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Resolutions

My friend, Dr. Paul Chitwood serves as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.  He recently published a very well-written challenge that I would like to share with you.  I echo the following words of Dr. Chitwood as we seek to magnify and honor the glorious name of the Lord Jesus in 2012:

With this first 2012 post, I’m hoping a New Year’s resolution list for Kentucky Baptists will be well received. I offer no earth-shattering new insights. I simply challenge us to be faithful to the basic call of Christ upon our lives and obedient to the fundamental teachings in God’s word. If every Kentucky Baptist would commit themselves to the following resolutions, our churches would flourish, every lost person in the Commonwealth could hear the gospel, and the cause of the Great Commission would be rapidly advanced.

First, would you resolve to walk closely with Jesus through concerted prayer and daily Bible reading? Our Lord exhorts us in John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” The first call of the gospel is the call to be in Jesus Christ. He is the source of spiritual life and spiritual power. Apart from him, we will remain powerless.

Second, would you resolve to obey Jesus in all things? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28). Matters like sexual purity, financial stewardship, personal honesty, sobriety, and refraining from gluttony are not negotiable for those who have confessed Jesus as Lord of our lives.

Third, would you resolve to share Jesus with at least one lost person each week? The command to be witnesses and the promise of the Spirit’s empowerment to that end are clearly stated in Acts 1:8. As for the lost, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard” (Rom 10:14)? Yet, multiple studies and surveys reveal most of us never take the initiative to tell lost people how to be saved. Pray that God would give you the opportunity to share the gospel with just one person each week.

Fourth, would you resolve to love and serve Jesus’ bride with more passion than ever before? Your church isn’t perfect but it needs you. And you need the church. We simply cannot be faithful followers of Jesus apart from his church. Love and serve her.

Fifth, would you resolve to commit more of your resources to Jesus’ Great Commission? The sin of greed has captivated us. Rather than starting with a tithe and giving generously beyond that, the average church member gives less than 3 percent of their income. If we merely gave a tithe, church ministry budgets and the Cooperative Program mission budget would triple, resulting in an exponential harvest of souls in Kentucky and around the world.

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