Why I’m Passionate About Church Replanting—And You Should Be, Too!

Replant National Gathering, June 11-12, 2016 | St. LouisThis past September, I was asked by Mark Hallock, Regional Replanting Coach of the Rocky Mountain Region of the North American Missions Board, to serve on his replanting team.  I remember the first conversation well—it was over a late dinner at the Black-Eyed Pea in Englewood, Colorado.  It was there that I was once again acquainted with the expression: “We’re building the plane as we’re flying it.”

What is replanting? More than 70 percent of Southern Baptist churches are either plateaued or declining in number.  Fifteen percent of all churches are within two years of shutting their doors.  In fact, over 900 SBC churches close their doors every year (approximately 17 per Sunday).  Replanting seeks to reverse the trend to keep us losing any more gospel presences in North America.  Replanting seeks to start a process to see if churches are willing to face the leadership challenges and changes necessary to turn things around and go from surviving to sound to thriving.

John Mark Clifton, the head of the replanting initiative at NAMB, tells us more about what this is all about:

We are in the process now of identifying and calling on churches ready to replant, starting the process of assessing those interested and called to replant (assessments, internships, sending), and beginning in the Fall holding one-day conferences on the subject of replanting and revitalization here in the West.

At the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, MO, NAMB will hold a National Replant Gathering June 11-12.  I would encourage all of you interested in learning more about this ministry or about your direct involvement to attend.  You’ll see the great lineup of speakers, but more importantly, you’ll network with those who have a passion for this and (like you) hate to see any more churches and gospel presences close.

I am thrilled at what God is doing—not just with church planting, but church replanting.  Visit the NAMB Replant blog at http://www.namb.net/replant.

Navigating an Established Church Through Change

2014-11-11 07.58.09Change  in a church or any organization is scary–and not just for those of the older persuasion.  I mean, that’s the stereotype: the senior adults of a church usually take umbrage with change.  Not so!  Change is scary for many in the church.  The unknown is all that’s known during the process.  The younger generations wonder if the change will really help the cause of Christ, and become anxiety-filled in wondering if this process will really move things forward or find resistance to such a degree that it’s not worth it.

Our church called me as Lead Pastor (I know, the title is ‘senior’ pastor, but, hey, I’m 43–I’m not a ‘senior’ anything yet) and for the first 18 months, I kept my word and didn’t change much.  I spent time loving and getting to know our people as best as possible (not perfectly, but that was my ambition), and preached the unvarnished Word of God being led by His Spirit in using this earthen vessel (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Yet,

Here’s my plan:

Christ and community:  Do the changes help us better connect with Christ  and connect with the community around us?

Head and heart:  Do the changes connect with us personally in our head (yes, we need these changes) and our heart (are we emotionally and spiritually ready to make these changes, or do our spirits resist these? If so, why?  What challenges arise?  What threat do they pose?  Is the end result in our hearts worth the process of losing some of what we have now?)

Approachable and applicable:  Are the changes achievable (to use another ‘a’)?  Are they something that we can do?  Are there short-term, easier changes we can make now to gain momentum for changes in the future?  Are these changes for changes’ sake, or do they apply to a true obstacle or issue the church is facing?

Navigable:  Are we as church leaders ready to communicate where we shall navigate?  Are we as church leaders ready to help you navigate through the calm and/or stormy waters in this sea of change–or are we as leaders wanting to stay docked in a safe harbor?  When we do (notice the word ‘when’) pull out of the safety of the harbor, will we as church leaders recognize the needed pace by which to navigate?  And will we all be willing to be led by the Spirit and have ears to hear what he is saying to the church (Revelation 2-3)?

Gradual with gravity:  Pace.  That’s the word.  Will we recognize the necessary pace, finding the tension between being gradual (not glacial) and conveying the gravity of needed change?

Edifying and engaging:  Are we willing to grow on the inside (edify–which means to build up) to go on the outside (engaging)?  We’ve come full circle to Christ (growing in Him) and culture (going for Him, in His name).

Whatever change takes place, may we do so by

(1)  Engaging His Word
(2)  Engaging Him in prayer
(3)  Engaging His people.
(4)  Engaging the lost.

What think ye?  How does change in your church affect you?