Many of our churches are experiencing this, too. SBC of Virginia strives to offer solutions through Church Revitalization.
Our vision for church revitalization desires, if possible, for a church to retain the same people with the same leadership and catch a fresh vision for their church and their community.
Woodlawn Baptist Church in Danville, VA experienced a decline. With God’s grace and through support of the church revitalization process, the church is now growing with new salvations and baptisms. This is their story.
Rusty Small, revitalization strategist with the SBC of Virginia, shares practical insight to leading change in the church.
The first line of communication from the local church to the SBCV is the regional missionary. Each regional missionary will be aware of each local church in their regions and will be the primary source of referrals for churches looking to revitalize. The regional missionary will primarily be an encourager for and monitor of the process of revitalization in local churches within their regions.
The revitalization strategy leader will be responsible for writing and coordinating the personalized plan for each church. The revitalization strategy leader will pull together various data and resources to produce a blueprint for revitalization.
The transition of a pastor within a local church is a crucial time. Interim or Transitional Pastors can serve a major role in aiding in the process of revitalization while they are serving a given local church.
Consultants could be utilized to offer broad range assessment of the various aspects of the church. Consultants could also offer firm recommendations to the church in the areas of revitalization.
In an ideal situation, a partner church could come alongside of a church in need of revitalization. The partner church could merely be a source of encouragement and cooperation or the partner church could become more deeply involved and offer resources, send people, and more fully invest in the revitalization effort.
SBCV has a paid internship program. This could offer fresh personnel to aid in new ministry endeavors. Also, Liberty University Rawlings School of Divinity is intentionally attempting to place supervised interns throughout Virginia for the purpose of helping with church revitalization and ministry training for students preparing of the ministry.
A team of pastors throughout Virginia who have embarked upon revitalization will be networked for continuing education, encouragement, and fellowship. The task of revitalization will not be done in isolation from other pastors in Virginia who are embarking upon the same objective.
In an ideal situation, most churches in need of revitalization would follow some variation of this plan. This plan to revitalization retains the same pastor and congregation with a fresh vision that results in revitalization. This plan would use as many of the resources offered through strategic relationships as needed. This is the gold standard for what SBCV would desire for all churches in need of revitalization. There is a realization that there must be openness for change, commitment to a revitalization process, a strong sense of cooperation, and a deep reliance upon the Lord for this plan to be taken successfully.
A crucial time for revitalization to take place is when new leadership is being implemented. Thus, in this plan, the church would recognize its need for revitalization during a time when they are without senior leadership. This would draw upon the resources of interim/transition pastors and other resources as necessary to chart a plan to revitalization under new future leaderships.
While the ultimate goal is for a Christian witness to remain in some form in this particular locale, a merger plan may be the best option for some. A merger plan is where two churches become one. Typically, one church is willing to be brought under the leadership of a mother church. The negative to this approach is that a church may lose its autonomy. However, if the other option is for the church to lose its presence in the community through inability to continue, a merger may be best.