How the GARBC Can Help
The GARBC offers complimentary ministry consultation to help struggling pastors and churches.
“The inevitability of life means we’re going to have ups and downs,” says John Greening, national representative of the GARBC. “When we’re up, we think we can go at it alone. But what we really need is to focus on the needs of others around us. And when we’re down, we need to ask for help. Within the brotherhood of an association of churches, we need to help each other.”
Greening cites the “two are better than one” principle from Ecclesiastes 4:10. “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.”
Most importantly, Greening says, is getting the right kind of assistance. “We need to be helped by others who share our same values and aspirations.”
GARBC consultation services include pastoral search, pastoral counsel, strategic planning, church finance and business, pastor-deacon relationships, conflict resolution, facility evaluation, leadership training, spiritual maturity development, revitalization strategies, and dissolution assistance.
Need help? Call the GARBC Resource Center (1-888-588-1600) or send an e-mail to Daria Greening (firstname.lastname@example.org).
How Sister Churches Can Help
Sister churches can offer dying churches prayer, financial, and hands-on support. When First Baptist Church, Pittsfield, Ill., needed revitalization, sister churches in western Illinois joined together to help. Columbus Road Baptist Church, Quincy, led the way, with help from Faith Baptist, Camp Point, and First Baptist, Littleton. The four churches raised $18,000 to begin the project. Then volunteers spent Saturdays hauling trash, demolishing interiors, installing drywall and insulation, and pulling electrical lines throughout the remodeled building. When it was time for skilled workers to complete the job, Columbus Road Baptist requested a $15,000 grant from Baptist Builders Club to finish the work. In addition, sister churches of the Illinois-Missouri Association of Regular Baptist Churches gave $2,100 and were encouraged to pray for and support the revitalization of the Pittsfield church.
How Mission Agencies Can Help
“When churches call for help, they almost always have seven to twelve people left,” says David Little, president of Baptist Church Planters. “What they want is a missionary pastor because they do not have the funds to support a pastor. But what they really need is a total revitalization!”
When a struggling church asks for help, Baptist Church Planters asks a regional fields director to evaluate the situation. He starts by asking a lot of questions about attendance, membership, finances, past leadership, major conflicts, and reputation in the community. Next, if the church seems receptive to BCP’s assistance, a regional field director will visit the church for discussions about the mission agency’s revitalization help. Substantive changes are discussed: name change, constitutional changes, resignation of officers, updates to the church building. “The church’s response to these suggested changes often determines whether we feel they can be helped,” David Little says. “If they are resistant to any changes, we do not take them as rescue works. If they are receptive and open to help, we then locate a missionary to begin the work of rebuilding the church.”
Baptist Church Planters often arranges for the help of semiretired pastors and missionaries, ministry veterans who can be very effective in bringing a church back to life. Ideally, a church rescue should not take longer than three years. “It is not the desire of Baptist Church Planters to have preaching stations that never graduate,” Little says. Sometimes a church is counseled to consider closing with the help of ChurchCare, a subsidiary of BCP designed to help churches through the process.
BCP’s John Little recently worked with Hampton Street Baptist Church in Auburn, Mass., helping the church through a revitalization process and eventually sending missionaries Roy and Karen Kinney. Today the church is alive and well, planning to purchase 12 acres and build a new facility.
“Revitalization can work and should be seriously considered,” David Little says.
How State Associations Can Help
Sometimes churches are leaving a gap in their missions program, reaching out to the neighborhood around their own local church or sending missionaries to far-off lands. But what about ministry to the area in between, churches needing help in nearby towns?
Ken Floyd, state representative for the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches, uses Acts 1:8 to describe this missing territory. If a church has concern for its “Jerusalem” and “the uttermost parts of the earth,” what about “Judea”?
“Our Judea is Michigan,” Ken says. “Michigan is given to us, tasked to us by the Savior as part of His eternal plan to be reached by our churches. We need to give CPR to each other–Church Planting Relationships.”
The CPR program uses the state association to organize and encourage relationships between sister churches. Now churches send missions teams to nearby congregations that need help, organizing building repair projects, Vacation Bible Schools, neighborhood canvassing, and outreach events. Some churches have offered prayer and budget support to struggling nearby congregations. Other churches have provided pulpit supply so a church’s pastor can arrange for needed vacation or ministry training. As a result, MARBC churches have organized more than 70 CPR ministry projects in the past four years.
- For more, read “Church Rescue”