Churches matter to Jesus–and every church should matter to us.
Over the last two days, I’ve been at the North American Missions Board in Alpharetta, GA at the Replant Lab. (Should you wish to see more of what this is about and how the 170+ attendees responded and reacted, you can go to Twitter and check out the hashtag #ReplantLab.)
Replanting is simply helping a dying church continue on in some form, whether through long-term revitalization, merger with another church, or having a hard reset. Many believe replanting is just turning the keys over to another authority and that’s it. Not so! There are many ways to replant–but they are all ways to make sure stave off the trajectory of 900 SBC churches closing every year, with 77% of them in cities over 100,000 and 90% of them in growing communities.
Mark Hallock, one of the regional replanting leaders based here in the West, already put out a great blog post on the choicest quotes, which I encourage you to read.
My immediate takeaway is that this movement honors the history and heritage of churches, all the while helping them move forward in being disciplemaking disciples. I’ve gone to many conferences and even attended seminary where many make fun of established/traditional churches. They use this as a stand-up routine to bring laughs.
Not here. Repeatedly, they honored the senior saints in an effort to help everyone attending and those not yet attending to see the glory of a fresh vision for making the Great Commission a living breathing reality. Many times, these churches are tired, but they do not want to see their churches die.
Hallock rightly said that the #1 task of leadership is to name reality. Many times, pastors and churches alike avoid reality because it’s just too difficult to embrace and engage. But it all comes down to strengthening disciples to make new disciples.
Brian Croft, senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, and head of Practical Shepherding, encouraged us to ask five questions in evaluating a dying church:
- Authority: Who is in charge?
- Leadership: Whom do I follow?
- Membership: to Whom am I accountable?
- Unity: Who is my brother?
- Worship: Why do we gather?
The two biggest questions deal with authority and leadership. Churches struggle with pastors moving on at a three-year clip on average. Therefore, other members fill in those pastoral gaps. Thus, when a new pastor comes in to take on his pastoral duties, tensions arise due to other members taking those duties on.
Of all the offices and roles in the church, only two are defined: pastors/elders and deacons. We must continue to look to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and properly vet pastors and deacons for their roles in churches. Then prayerfully and joyfully let them lead in a manner that is in line with their biblical qualifications and role.
If you’d like more information about what replanting is all about, go to namb.net/replant and look around. God’s not done with any church. Many we wake up, repent, and follow our Great Shepherd!