By Ashley Perham
Baptist & Reflector intern
PINSON — Approximately 75-80 percent of churches are stagnant or in decline, and as many as 10 percent of Southern Baptist churches may cease to exist in the next 10 years unless fundamental changes are made, according to Steve Holt, church services director for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
The Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions and the Cooperative Program makes it possible for the TBMB to partner with churches in church revitalization, a process which moves a plateaued or declining church toward a healthy and sustained environment.
Parkburg Baptist Church, Pinson, has been one of the churches helped by the church revitalization process. “We were doing fairly well. We weren’t burning things up, but we were okay. People said, ‘Parkburg’s a good church,’ ” said pastor Danny Rachel. The church is featured in a new Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions video.
“I’ve never liked a good church. I don’t think God wants good churches. I think he wants churches of excellence,” Rachel explained.
Parkburg decided to enter the church revitalization process and started a new vision for the church in 2017.
“And from there, going through the process, we saw changes. We saw changes in people. We saw an excitement to do more for the Lord. Ministries grew out of this. We had people come and ask me to start new ministries,” said Rachel.
Giving, attendance and excitement has grown in the church since beginning the process, the pastor said.
“It’s not easy,” said Rachel. “But in 2018, we baptized more than I’ve ever baptized in my 25-year ministry, and that’s the most important thing that there is.”
“I see the growth continuing. I mean, we’re riding the wave now, the excitement. There’s a spirit within the church like I haven’t seen in several years with the members and everybody’s united and ready to move forward,” said Bryan Webb, a deacon at Parkburg Baptist.
The church revitalization process looks to create evangelistic awareness, increased worship and Bible study participation, faithfulness in stewardship and growth in mission involvement, Holt observed.
Rachel said he would encourage every pastor to see if the church revitalization process would work for them. “It’s because of the Golden Offering that the ministries like church revitalization are available,” Rachel said. “There’s not enough money that comes out of the Cooperative Program to fund all the ministries that we need in Tennessee. And Tennessee is a ground that is just ripe for the harvest.”
Holt observed that church revitalization “is not an easy process, but it is an essential process for churches that are plateaued or declining who want to move toward health.
“Actually, all churches need to be in some type of renewal process at all times. Churches are living organisms and like all living things they need to change and grow.
Holt said Parkburg “is a great example of the healthiest process of renewal, that of an internal, gospel-focused, pastor-led, and congregation-engaged effort. Pastor Danny has done an excellent job of leading Parkburg in an affirming, healthy way.”
— Churches interested in church revitalization can contact Holt for more information at email@example.com.