When Lynn Sasser read Thom Rainer’s book Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church he knew immediately that church leaders need to hear the book’s message. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources, and Sasser is the executive leader for the evangelism and discipleship group of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Convinced that a statewide conference on the subjects of revitalization and change is needed, Sasser reached out to Rainer with an invitation to come to North Carolina. “We felt like [Rainer’s] presence would draw a number of North Carolina Baptist church leaders to come and begin thinking about how they need to deal with change in their church,” he said.
Rainer accepted the invitation, and the conference, Leading Change in the Church, is set for March 7 at the West Campus (in Advance, N.C.) of Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sasser called it “a one-day event for your entire church staff focused on leading change in the local church.”
“The book is about change in the local church,” said Sasser. “The reason it intrigued us is that it’s around the premise of church revitalization.”
Many churches are in decline and need to take intentional steps toward revitalization, but are reluctant to make necessary changes.
“Every church that needs to be revitalized has to deal with change,” Sasser said. “The church got where it is based on the way they’ve done things over time. If they want to have different results, they’re going to have to deal with change. That is what hooked our interest [in Rainer’s book].”
With more than three decades of experience as a pastor, director of missions and staff leader at BSC, Sasser understands church values. He said he was “very pleased” to see the book identified prayer as the beginning point for revitalization.
“That’s the very first thing that has to happen in a church. That really is the key problem in churches that need to be revitalized. It’s a spiritual issue more often than not. And I realize that some churches may have tried to be very faithful but just find themselves in a very, very hard place.”
Beginning with prayer, the book provides a clear outline of progression through the process of revitalization, he said.
“Then there’s also a very helpful piece called a ‘readiness change inventory’ in the book, and I hope Dr. Rainer will address that [at the conference].”
The conference is jointly sponsored by LifeWay, BSC and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). Two keynote sessions will feature Rainer. Four breakout session tracks will offer more than 20 training opportunities in revitalization through discipleship, age-group ministries, social media, worship, theology, multi-site options, cultural engagement and other related topics.
Breakout speakers from the three sponsoring organizations include Jamie Dew, Art Rainer, Ryan Hutchinson, Denise O’Donoghue, George Robinson, Sam Morris and John Ewart from SEBTS. Lifeway’s speakers are Trevin Wax, Daniel Im and Aaron Armstrong. Breakout leaders for BSC include Brian Upshaw, Chuck Register, Kenny Lamm, Merrie Johnson, Mark Smith, Cheryl Markland and Zac Lyons. Rob Peters, Calvary’s senior pastor, is also a breakout leader.
Advance registration is requested at leadingchange.church. Individual registration for the conference is $10 and covers admission to the conference and lunch. Church staff pricing for more than five attendees is $50 for an entire group. For more information email [email protected] or call Kathryn Markham at (919) 459-5648.