Explore distinctives of NAMB's five regions
Find cities where you can plant a church
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
Equipping Churches for Evangelism
Promote missions giving in your church
Get your free subscription to On Mission magazine
Are you ready? Get started now! Click this button:
By Mark Clifton
A dying church robs God of His glory.
Yet it doesn’t have to.
Those two truths have driven my journey with legacy church
planting for the past decade.
Each year about a
thousand churches disappear from the Southern Baptist database, the majority of
them closing. God gets no glory when that happens. Of those churches, 77
percent are located in metro areas. That means in the areas where we as
Southern Baptists have identified we need churches the most, we’re starting to
fall behind. We need to start even more churches in these metro areas every
year just to catch up with the ballooning church death rate.
answer isn’t just better strategy. The answer isn’t just better preaching. The answer
isn’t even just telling more people about Jesus.
You turn around a struggling church through a passion for
the glory of God in all things. This alone must be the beginning and primary
motivation for intervening in a dead church, even over worthy goals such as
reaching the community, growing the church and meeting needs. A new church
plant could reach the community and meet needs. But replanting a dying church
glorifies God by reclaiming a church near death as it does those same things. The
purpose of all creation is the glory of God. This is exactly why He created the
Church. Romans 11:36 proclaims, “Everything is from him and by him and for him. Glory belongs to him
But I believe declining churches can once again project the
glory of God to their community.
Just ask the people who once made up Birchwood Baptist
Church of Independence, Mo. Struggling through years of decline the church
reached out to LifeConnection
Church, a 6-year-old church plant also in the same Kansas City
suburb, to see if they might be interested in merging the two churches.
Birchwood would provide the building. LifeConnection would provide the young,
LifeConnection Church had been looking for a permanent
location to put down roots in the community, but they were located in another
part of the city. Still both churches prayed through the potential merger and
late last year voted to merge.
I have an the privilege to walk with them through this
journey a bit and had a front row seat to what God is doing in this merger. It
wasn’t always an easy journey. For new life to come, leadership has to be
handed off. A church that faced years of decline has to be humble enough to
follow new leaders. Ministries have to come to an end. Traditions have to
If you’ve ever walked with an aging parent through the last
stages of their life, you’ve got a glimpse of what this is like. It’s painful,
confusing, transformational time for your relationship with your parents. It’s
similar for a struggling church that merges with a new church plant.
But it’s a process that has to happen. Churches in decline
are perfectly designed to get the results they’re getting. Without a change in
leadership, decline will continue. It’s a forgone conclusion.
That’s not what’s happened at the church formerly known as
Birchwood Baptist Church. Just three months after that merger, the church
averages around 300 in attendance. What makes that number particularly
impressive is that they’re more than the sum of their parts. You add up the
attendance of both churches prior to the merger and it doesn’t equate to 300.
And it has been like that for most of the past three months.
Why you ask? God brought life to a struggling church. People
want to be a part of places where transformation isn’t just a word in the
sermon but a personal and institutional reality.
And God gets the glory when that happens.
Learn more about legacy
church planting at namb.net/Legacy.
serves as the national legacy church strategist at the North American Mission
Date Created: 4/17/2015 12:25:55 PM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2015 North American Mission Board, SBC