Equipping Pastors to Lead Toward Hopeful Futures
There is something about a church comeback storyline that captures our heart and points our attention to God’s grace on display in a community in need of hope. The church that once struggled to pay its bills, couldn’t afford a full-time pastor, struggled week to week to offer any ministry or worship service for its members, yet alone any guest who would stumble into the worship center, is now alive and thriving. As pastors and church members, we search for those stories hoping that we could glean some nugget of wisdom or inspiration to springboard our church’s story of renewal. Praise God these hopeful stories exist to help us continue our faithful service in the local church, but how can we multiply these stories and reverse the burdensome trends of declining and dying congregations?
God has been gracious to write many stories of church revitalization and renewal in South Carolina. We have intentionally invested time equipping local practitioners and partners to implement a strategic process for engaging our at-risk churches. Churches that once waited for the right pastor or God to send young people are now taking steps of faith to ADVANCE God’s mission in their communities through revitalization, reSTARTing, mergers, and partnerships.
Some of our turnaround churches are now launching residencies to train future pastors to lead even more churches to a hopeful future. Men, who may have recently completed seminary but still need intentional training in a revitalization setting, are being equipped to multiply this movement of renewal.
RE, COHORT TRAINING FOR REVITALIZATION PASTORS & REPLANTERS
Now we are preparing to launch cohort training for revitalization pastors and replanters in our state, so that even more leaders can be equipped to help congregations reverse their plateaued and declining statistics. RE is a cohort process for pastors to have the right conversations about essential elements for church revitalization. It focuses the attention of a busy pastor on his own pursuit of God and development, as well as ministry areas such as vision, discipleship, worship, leadership development, etc. WIth thirteen individual lessons delivered through an online format, pastors study, reflect, and apply Biblical principles to their context in preparation to gather for an interactive cohort setting. Then, we add in an additional layer of accountibility and encouragement by requiring each pastor to choose a mentor/coach to help him develop ideas even further.
- Online lessons accessible on-demand
- Links to resources essential to each lesson
- Monthly in-person cohort sessions with other pastors and a trained facilitator
- Regular meetings with a pastoral mentor/coach
Unlike other training models that instruct pastors what to do, RE seeks to orient each pastor to hear from God and apply Biblical truth to their unique context. Each online lesson or cohort session begins with Scripture before introducing any other resource. With this foundation, we then recommend trusted resources to gain wisdom from practitioners, and then ask questions to help each pastor apply what he learns to his context.
Biblical Truth —> Wisdom from Practitioners —> Contextual Application
This process positions the pastor to lead the congregation that called with confidence and support to implement the unique mission and vision to reach their community with the hope of the gospel. With the support of his peers, his mentor, and often a strategist like his AMS/DOM or state convention leader, the pastor and the congregation can begin to write their own story of revitalization and renewal.
3 PASTORS BENEFITING FROM RE
“Pastor Joe” was recently called to FBC somewhere, SC. The church has been plateued and in decline for years and recently affirmed a recommendation from their AMS/DOM to begin a revitalization process. They know they need to make changes to reach their community with the gospel, but don’t know where to begin. With the assistance of their DOM, they recently called Pastor Joe to lead them to a hopeful future. Joe enrolled in a pilot cohort of RE and is already seeing the benefit personally as he meets regularly with other pastors on a similar trajectory of church revitalization.
“Pastor Steve” has been a pastor for about a year. It’s his first pastorate after completing seminary and he is overwhelmed with all the pastoral expectations. He hears stories of long ago when the church was full of worshippers and kids, but now its mostly empty and his son and daughter are often the only kids in the outdated preschool wing. How can his church find renewal? Though his time is limited, each gathering of the RE cohort hass a breath of fresh air to him as he grows personally and prays about the vision God has for the congregation. The church will soon begin a consultation process and prepare for a hopeful future.
“Pastor Tim” is a replanter. He could have started a new work, but he was burdened for the churches facing closure and completed an assessment process as a replanter with the state convention. Recently Tim was called by the remaining few members of a local congregation to help them reSTART. With new leadership they are preparing for new ministries, new decision making processes, new everything in an existing, historic location. RE is helping Tim see the vision and implementation clearly as he applies each lesson to his context, and he has the prayerful support of a mentor to keep him on track as a leader.
- Pastor of a congregation committed to a renewal process
- New pastor in a revitalization context
- Replanter preparing to reSTART
Is RE the training process you have been looking for? Does your story sound like Tim’s, Steve’s, or Joe’s? If so, contact your local AMS/DOM to express your interest in RE or send the Church Strategies Group of SC Baptist Convention a request for more information.
Written by a collection of practitioners, each lesson and cohort session will guide pastors to apply Biblical truths to their context.
Trusting God for the results, we and our partners are committed to engaging at-risk churches and equipping revitalization pastors/replanters with the right conversations until every community in South Carolina has strong churches to saturate their communities with the hope of the gospel.