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State leaders discuss church revitalization

CHARLESTON, S.C. (BP) — Church growth is a “supernatural event, and therefore church revitalization is more of a spiritual issue than a mechanical one,” said Ken Hemphill, director for North Greenville University’s Center for Church Planting and Revitalization, during a meeting of leaders from 14 Baptist state conventions.

Hemphill was a guest speaker at the March 21-22 meeting in Charleston, S.C., where the network of leaders focused on sharing best practices related to work in church revitalization. Also present were representatives from LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board as well as several leaders from local associations in South Carolina.

“Our core conviction is [that] nothing changes the heart and mind but the Word of God applied by the Spirit of God,” Hemphill said. “Church revitalization must be undergirded by prayer and based on the effective and accurate teaching of God’s Word.”

The leadership network was initiated by Kenneth Priest, director of convention strategies for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and Steve Rice, church consulting and revitalization team leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

“The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention believes church revitalization is brought about by the people of God returning to the Word of God,” Priest noted.

“This means that the strongest model for bringing about the needed change in a church is done from the pulpit by the pastor,” he said. “Therefore, we use a process that is focused on preaching for revitalization and reinforce this with small group study based off the sermon.”

Darwin Meighan, director of church revitalization/evangelism for the Nevada Baptist Convention, shared ways his convention partners with pastors and churches, including providing resources that give “transferable scriptural principles along with key components essential to the spiritual process of revitalizing every church regardless of its size, condition or context.”

“Our desire is to come alongside pastors and churches to join them in the journey of restoring spiritual health, hope and renewal in each church’s unique ministry setting, with the goal of helping them more effectively accomplish the Great Commission,” Meighan said.

Each year, a different state convention hosts the meeting of state convention leaders so they can discuss what is happening in their respective states, new practices and tools developed in the past year, what is working and what is not working in church revitalization.

“Even though each of us has a different model, none of them are bad or wrong; they are simply different,” Rice said. “Each of us has to approach revitalization within the model and the context of the model within our respective state convention.”

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  • Keith Collier/Southern Baptist Texan