The apostle Paul is widely considered the greatest missionary who ever lived.
Paul is known for the many churches that he planted and established during his missionary journeys. Sometimes overlooked, however, is Paul’s work in strengthening the churches he helped start.
Acts 15:41 says Paul “went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”
Following the example of Paul, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) disciple-making strategy is focused on not only planting new churches, but strengthening existing churches, as well.
That’s why there’s a group of consultants at the convention who serve on the Church Strengthening Team. They work with churches to help them become stronger and healthier as they seek to carry out the Great Commission. Antonio Santos leads the Church Strengthening Team, which is a part of the convention’s Evangelism and Discipleship Group.
“Our main thrust and our main goal is disciple-making,” Santos said. “We seek to strengthen churches by helping them develop a disciple-making culture. We are all about making disciples.”
The Church Strengthening Team works with churches in a number of areas, including leadership, stewardship, pastoral ministry, worship, renewal and special ministries. A key component of the Church Strengthening Team’s work is in the area of church revitalization.
Although the numbers vary, recent statistics cited by the North American Mission Board report that 70-75 percent of Southern Baptist churches have either plateaued or are in decline. Add to that another estimated 10-15 percent that are considered at risk, and that means up to 90 percent of churches across the country are struggling.
Helping churches change course and reverse these trends is not an easy fix.
“Often times we believe these issues can be addressed through programs and processes,” said Lynn Sasser, the BSC’s executive leader for evangelism and discipleship. “This is not a mechanical fix.”
That’s why Santos and his team work hard to help churches first realize that their challenges are spiritual rather than physical or material.
“A major aspect of our work is related to spiritual warfare,” Santos said. “This is a spiritual battle. We first want to help churches develop an understanding of where they are, spiritually speaking.”
To assist churches in this self-discovery, the Church Strengthening Team has developed a helpful resource for pastors and church leaders titled “Revitalize.” This brochure is designed to help leaders assess their church through a series of questions that are undergirded by prayer, fasting and repentance.
The “Revitalize” resource is designed so that pastors and church leaders may work through the assessment themselves or in consultation with a member of the Church Strengthening Team. The resource is available at ncbaptist.org/revitalize. Download your free copy today.
Members of the Church Strengthening Team are available to assist you and your church to evaluate your current situation and make recommendations. You may contact the team by emailing Santos at [email protected] or by calling (800) 395-5102, ext 5642.