God can make any church come alive, but its people must turn to the Lord and experience revitalization God’s way. The entire Church Revitalization process of the SBTC is based on transferable principles from the Word of God for the people of God. Our desire is to come alongside the local church to join you on your journey to restore the church to be the beacon of hope for a community in need of Jesus.
biblically based principles for renewed growth
These approaches can take on several looks, and is encouraged for support of any method of revitalization endeavors. The SBTC uses one basic approach:
Sermon Based Small Groups: This approach is more detailed and requires more involvement from the pastor. A 13-week sermon series is preached which focuses on the specific thematic approach to revitalization. Small groups (whether Sunday school on Sunday mornings or at another time during the week) reinforce or complement the pastor’s sermon. The series is provided by the SBTC, but is designed as a be- ginning point for the pastor to prepare. The topic for the week is provided and the text, but it is the responsibility of the pastor to develop his own sermons contextualizing for his unique church. The small group material has a beginning commentary and questions for use, but the pastor will need to supplement the material with additional commentary and questions. Since the SBTC is not dictated specifically what to preach regarding each topic, we cannot provide a full lesson for the small group time.
At the end of either series, the pastor conducts a town hall meeting with the church to discuss key ministry initia- tives which the church should engage. These become the vision path for the church. No more than three should be initiated. Any above that become the future ministries of the church.
This approach utilizes church assessments and consultations to determine where the church presently is and the outcomes of where it needs to go. Through this process all program ministries in the church are evaluated along with facilities and finances. The end result is a new vision path for the church with ministries re-engineered to meet the present needs of the community context in order to more effectively minister and reach the community for the cause of Christ. The church does not look the same as when it starts the process as everything is on the table to be re-engineered for effectiveness.
This approach closes the doors of the church for a season (sometimes weeks, sometimes months). The church dissolves from existence on paper. A church planter is sent in to develop a core team. The church changes its name, new by-laws, and newly constitutes. Updates are made to the facilities as necessary. The church then relaunches with a new vision and strategy for engaging the community. A sponsor church is involved and sends in the planter (typically). The sponsor church is heavily involved to insure an effective launch. The SBTC Church Revitalization Team hands this model off to the Church Planting Team as it is a plant. Church Revitalization Team remains involved in assisting the planter in coaching the existing members for spiritual renewal.
This may happen in several different models.
MODEL 1: A healthy church has a desire to assist a church in decline. The declining church comes under covenant relationship with the healthy church. The healthy church provides leadership (typically replacing the pastor with a staff member from the healthy church).
The healthy church typically sends in a core leadership team to assume, or pick-up, many volunteer positions which need to be filled. The healthy church invests in the church facilities, scheduling work projects around the campus to restore the facilities to full functionality. The declining church suspends all leadership control and agrees to function under the by-laws and constitution of the healthy church for the term of the covenant. The covenant relationship could be as short as one year,
or up to five years, depending on the need of the declining church. (For this model, think the old Mission Church model. Whenver a mission church was started out of a church, it would build to a healthy position and then would spin-off. That is the goal here. Sometimes however, the church after spinning off, would go through a downturn and have to “revert back” to mission status. That is essentially this model).
MODEL 2: A declining church which is without a pastor (occasionally this is done with an existing pastor who is willing to submit to the training and development needed). The SBTC provides a list of Revitalization Pastors from which to select. These pastors have gone through training and on-going continuing education in revitalization of the local church. The church selects a Revitalization Pastor. The SBTC moves into a covenant relationship with the pastor and the church; this is a three-way covenant agreement. The pastor implements a spiritual renewal methodology utilizing the sermon-based small group approach of the SBTC’s. In this model, consultations are conducted to determine the financial feasibility of the church. If there is financial lacking the SBTC may come alongside the church and provide grant funds to assist in paying the pastor’s salary for a season. The covenant agreement is for six month intervals, not to extend beyond two additional re-signs, for a total of eighteen months. At the end of the eighteen months, the Revitalization Pastor will have assisted the church in getting their search committee trained and in conducting a search for the new pastor. The end goal of this model is a revitalizing church and the new pastor being called during the eighteenth month of the process.
This model is where a healthy church acquires a declining church OR two churches merge together for the purpose of creating a healthy church. The SBTC philosophy is, this is a last resort model. As a matter of practice, the SBTC does not want to lose any preaching points in Texas. As the population continues to grow and the cultural diversity expands, every campus is needed to reach Texas and thereby reach the nations.
Jeff Lynn serves as the Senior Strategist for Church Health and Leadership, resourcing and networking church leaders across the state. He has been in ministry for over 32 years, serving in itinerant Christian music ministry, as a Worship Pastor, and as a Senior Pastor for 25 years. He recently served as pastor of Yorktown Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, TX for twelve years. Jeff has been married to Renee since August 1988, and they have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and one grandson. Jeff’s replenishment therapy is golf.