By John Greening
“Revitalization” is a multibillion-dollar industry. Creams, exercises, pillows, treatments, pills, caffeine, and surgeries promise to bring new life and vigor to tired bodies. Who hasn’t looked at the reflection of puffy eyes early in the morning and thought, Where is that youthful, energetic, svelte person who once stood here? As each year goes by, I find the starkly descriptive words of Ecclesiastes 12, which portray the inevitable realities of aging, hauntingly like the thoughts of the man in my mirror.
While I don’t want to be on a narcissistic quest to turn back the clock, neither do I care to let “the grinders cease” and “the windows grow dim” through inattention. For as long as I am able, I prefer to stay healthy and energetic so I can contribute to other people and enjoy God’s good blessings, especially my grandkids. Instead of hurrying the physical effects of time by being neglectful, I want to number my days to make the most of what God has entrusted to me.
I have come to think about church revitalization in a similar manner. Some churches may try to give themselves a cosmetic lift. I can’t be someone I am not. At my age, I don’t look especially good in jeans with my shirttail out as I stand on the platform on Sunday mornings. However, I can make the effort to not allow my ministry to tire and atrophy through neglect and inattention, or permit the gap between my generation and younger ones to grow wider.
Taking an honest look in the mirror is an important first step. I do the ministry a disservice if I do not admit that I would benefit from help. Humbly learning from other skilled practitioners of ministry is of personal benefit and will assist the church.
The venues of getting helpful instruction on revitalization are many.
Conferences. Look for conferences that provide how-to teaching on ministry implementation. Listen to quality preaching delivered by masters of the trade. Observe the speakers’ techniques to see how they have crafted and deliver their messages. Watch how the conference is facilitated. You will learn much that is transferable to your church.
The GARBC will hold its annual conference this June in North East, Maryland. Join us!
In addition, Regular Baptist Ministries will host regional Stronger Church conferences this fall in Ohio, Nebraska, and Northern California. Each conference will offer specialized tracks on the topics of church discipleship, revitalization, and church planting.
State associations will also host conferences this fall, and church-based conferences will take place in West Cannon, Michigan; Oswego, Illinois; Lafayette, Indiana; Ankeny, Iowa; Redding, California; and Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.
Continuing education. Enroll in classes that will add to your portfolio of ministry skills, such as leadership, counseling, preaching, budgeting, evangelism, church planting, writing, and vision casting. Regular Baptist Ministries offers a wide variety of online learning labs and webinars free of charge to pastors and leaders of Regular Baptist churches. Seminaries in our network offer excellent advanced courses meant to enhance ministry competencies. Why not enroll in a master of ministry or a doctor of ministry program?
Reading. In your annual reading, include books that will enhance your ministry techniques. Ask respected pastors for recommendations of current books that will stimulate your creative capacity. Get the juices of ministry innovation flowing.
Mentoring. Participate in a relationship that grows knowledge and skills. You might find that working with a mentor or being a mentor is just the path for launching church revitalization methods. Clare Jewell, national church planting coordinator for Regular Baptist Churches, is developing a network of mentoring sites in innovative churches that will help pastors and church leaders improve their ministries.
Another mentor, Jon Jenks, is helping pastors develop their leadership skills. Jon has pastored for many years. Now in his dual role as state representative and leadership training director for Baptist Church Planters, Jon facilitates an effective strategy for developing pastors through a yearlong mentoring program.
Consultation. Bring a skilled practitioner of ministry into your church to work with your leadership team to design a customized strategy for new ways of doing ministry. Men like Howard Bixby, Ken Floyd, Dave Lunsford, and Jim Vogel and I make it our ministry focus to help churches consider new ways to think about and implement the work of the church.
If you see a tired ministry in the mirror, you don’t need to be stuck in that rut. Rally the energy to pursue help. Don’t settle for same old, same old. There are new possibilities to consider!
John Greening is national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.