As we move further into 2017, church health and revitalization is of critical importance. Studies released from the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention indicate that there is a great need for spiritual revitalization within most of our Southern Baptist churches across this nation.
I know the same is true for many Baptist churches in North Carolina. The reality is that less than 18 percent of N.C. Baptist churches are healthy and growing. This means that more than 80 percent of our churches are plateaued, declining or dying. As your convention staff, we have taken notice of this, and I am pleased to remind you that in the past year, we began moving forward within our own convention to provide assistance for churches that need help. Lynn Sasser and Brian Upshaw from our Evangelism and Discipleship group have assembled and trained a group of specialists that have knowledge, experience and expertise in leading churches to become spiritually healthy and vibrant again. These specialists are working with individual churches who have requested this assistance from your state convention.
We continue to expand the reach of the revitalization work that we do. In March we will participate in an event called “Leading Change in the Church,” which is based on the book, Who Moved My Pulpit? by Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources.
One poignant fact we cannot ignore from Who Moved My Pulpit? is that 90 percent of our churches are losing ground in their neighborhoods and communities.
My friends, that means that we can reach 90 percent more of the people in our communities if our congregations will be open to the idea of change in our churches – if we ask God to change our hearts, give us guidance and breathe life into our local church bodies once again.
I have discovered that when a church has a need for revitalization, the membership usually finds it quite difficult to realize and admit that which has become a reality. When a church turns inward, the members focus more upon themselves and their own needs – which in reality are often wants. Because of this, I urge you to attend this event on March 7 and evaluate the condition of your church.
Will you begin praying for church revitalization to happen in our state? Pray that the hearts of local church leaders will be moved to see how revitalization can significantly impact their church and in turn enable them to make an eternal impact in their community.
If you and I hope to make a spiritual difference in communities within our church field, we must experience internal change before we will see external results. Revitalization is about making our churches healthy, but also remember that a healthy church is one with a focus on the needs of people outside the walls of our church buildings. Many people around us need to know Christ as Savior. If we have spiritually healthy churches, we can reach them more effectively. Let us pray and work toward church revitalization, and also pray that we will be united in our vision and efforts to reach the lost in our state.
“For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” – Luke 19:10.