The goal of church revitalization strives for a renewed vision to fill the hearts and minds of a church so that the church can have a fresh start.
This renewed vision can often be an incremental change that has a ripple effect throughout the church. Other times, God can call the church to rethink its mission and relaunch with an entirely new approach. Two churches in our 2019 revitalization cohort chose the path of renaming their church and relaunching under a renewed mission.
Pastor Shevi Sloane of Third Avenue Church, in Danville, had struggled to reach the changing community. Third Avenue had a traditional sanctuary that would seat 800 and a large educational and administrative wing capable of accommodating hundreds. The church was built to suit a different time and era in the history of Danville. The cost of facility upkeep and the struggle of the church to reach the community led to a fresh vision. The local congregation at Third Avenue Church believed that God could lead another work to use this large facility that would be more aligned to reach the community.
In years prior, Third Avenue had been led to purchase land in Danville. They had already built a pavilion on the property and believed that one day they may relocate the church. At the beginning of 2019, the reality of relocation was becoming an agreed-upon vision of the church. Within one year, God allowed the church to sell their building to another ministry better suited to reach this community.
Through this process, God wanted more than a relocation. God led the church to relaunch. Third Avenue Church was renamed Stone Creek Church and officially launched on January 26, 2020. In one year, God has established two viable Gospel works.
Pastor Sloane said, “Two years ago, the dreams of seeing this church revitalized with a new vision and a heart for reaching the lost seemed all but a fairytale. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for Stone Creek and our continued partnership with the SBCV.”
Pastor Mark Reon of Liberty Baptist Church, in Suffolk, had faithfully shepherded Liberty Baptist for several years. The church assembled and discussed ways in which God could use them to be a greater witness to the Suffolk community. The initial changes started small such as enhanced community outreach events, more intentional hospitality to visitors, and facility upgrades.
The movement of the church thinking about these initial changes launched a larger conversation about the overall perception of the church in the community and how to communicate to the larger community that a fresh vision was taking place. These discussions led to the idea of renaming and relaunching the church. After discussions, Liberty Baptist Church changed its name to Christ First Church. The church is striving to live out a renewed mission within the community of Suffolk.
Reon said, “On our launch Sunday, we doubled our regular attendance. Revitalization has allowed us to put the past behind us and focus solely on what is ahead of us.” ■