A few years ago Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson wrote the book Comeback Churches. The book features hundreds of churches that experienced a period of decline, yet turned things around and are now enjoying spiritual revival.
Stetzer and Dodson reported that 3,500-4,000 churches close each year in the United States. In North America, 70-80 percent of churches are stagnant or declining.
It is sad that so many churches no longer engage in effective Kingdom ministry or bear fruit for God’s Kingdom. Others look healthy from the outside, but on the inside are not really producing disciples who are in turn producing disciples.
It does not have to be this way, nor should it be. We need spiritually healthy churches all across this state, nation and world that exist to glorify God. One of the marks of a healthy church is that members are growing and maturing in their faith relationship in Christ.
This issue of the Biblical Recorder focuses on the third of the Seven Pillars for Ministry, which is strengthening existing churches. Churches must be healthy in order to carry out the other six pillars. Ministry priorities such as evangelism and church planting are lost when a church is in a period of stagnation or decline.
Therefore, church health is a bedrock necessity. Churches cannot carry out their divinely appointed mission of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ if they are not healthy. Healthy churches keep the gospel as their focus. Healthy churches practice gospel-centered worship that will result in engaging others with the gospel.
One way we can help strengthen churches is to help them follow the advice of Henry Blackaby: “Discover where God is working and join with Him.” Church leaders must be sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and do whatever He asks in order to join Him where He is at work.
As this state convention exists to serve local churches across North Carolina, we exist to help strengthen churches. I hope you are familiar with our three-year Find it Here (finditherenc.org
) emphasis of evangelism, discipleship and missions mobilization. This fall, we continue with a discipleship emphasis that challenges churches to consider what it means to abide in Christ.
Another resource available to you is the Church Health Institute (ncbaptist.org/chi
). This conference helps church leaders learn more about how to lead their church toward health and growth. Transformational Church is another resource. We have staff ready to help your church walk through a process of discovering how to transform the life of your church (ncbaptist.org/transformationalchurch
Just as believers in Jesus Christ strengthen and encourage one another, so can churches. I encourage you to join with churches in your area and association to explore how you can work together in order to become healthy churches that bear much fruit.
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
— Colossians 1:10
(EDITOR’S NOTE — This item is part of a package of stories highlighting strengthening existing church ministries across the state. The Biblical Recorder is focusing on the Seven Pillars for Christian Ministry adopted by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. For more stories on strengthening existing churches or to find out about the entire package, please visit here.)