Christopher Snider, Replanter
Catonsville Baptist Church
What drew you to the work of Replanting?
Early on in ministry I recognized really two roads before me. Church planting or church revitalization. Church planting was all the rage, everyone I was in seminary with was apart of or working toward some effort in church planting. I love church planting, it is vital to the mission of the church. But my heart was drawn by God toward revitalization. Having served in several church all of which in desperate need of revitalization, I knew there was a great need for pastors to serve these churches. So I began to devour as much resources and training as I could to understanding what was needed both in terms of education and spiritually to serve as a replant pastor.
How long have you been in the work of Replanting?
I have been serving as a replant pastor in my current church for 20 months. However, previously I served as an associate pastor for 7 years in a church that by all definitions was in need of revitalization.
Can you give us a brief history of your Replant?
We began the work in early July 2015. The church had been through two grueling interim periods each lasting over two years. This led to a rapid decline in membership over a period of 7 years. However, the decline stretched back for more than a decade. We recognized early on that it would take years to undo decades of dysfunction. This, however, did not deter us from venturing into the work. From the perspective of the congregation, I was coming as just their next pastor. From our perspective we knew that the work would primarily be a revitalization.
How has God been showing himself faithful as you Replant?
The fact I haven’t been fired yet is amazing to me. I’ve made some pretty stupid decisions in the first few months. But God has shown himself faithful by allowing me to stay. I don’t think I would have kept me around after making some of these decision I did. But God has been good. Early on in the work, we experienced the first genuine conversion and baptism in many years. I think God used this to reassure the congregation that he still had a purpose for this church to save souls. In other more general ways, we have seen people grow in the knowledge of Christ through the regular means of grace, namely the regular preaching of God’s word and prayer. These God has used to build his church.
What challenges have you faced as a Replanter?
I think the primary challenge I have faced, which isn’t foreign to pastoring, are the spiritual battles. My soul has been often been weary and dry. I have found myself in unchartered territory often, in need of desperate and radical changes to my own spiritual growth. This has forced me to take seriously spiritual disciplines and to work hard to cultivate a growing knowledge of Christ.
Another challenge has been interpersonal relationships. Coming into a replant work has caused a lot of friction with members. Most of which has been related to my own weakness in communication. My goal however has been to invest in them personally, show them I love them, that I care for them, that I’m not going to leave them. Because of the long interim periods, I think they are afraid I will leave them quickly. So I’ve been intentional to show them I’m hear to stay.
Can you share three lessons you are learning as a Replanter?
- Prayer is essential. I’ve been weak here. I don’t give enough effort and time to this. Without prayer we are powerless.
- Patience. I expect too much of others and myself. Driven by the prideful idolatry of I want to be “successful,” rather than giving myself to being faithful.
- Love. I need to shepherd more and manage less. I’ve found this subtle tug to be the church administrator rather than the loving shepherd of the flock.
What resources have been helpful to you as a Replanter?
The brothers at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and 9 marks have been invaluable to the work. I am forever indebted to their faithful reminders to remain committed to scripture in the work.
Also, the relationships that were forged with other pastors prior to beginning the work. Because these relationships had been tested with time I lean on them more now than I ever have. Because replant work is often a lonely work, I realize early on the need for other brothers to pour into my life. Investing here is a must.
How can a ministry partner or supporting church help your Replant?
Obviously the primary way is through prayer. We need God more than ever, without God nothing will change. With an aging congregation and an aging building we are often distracted with building needs that take away our attention from other more important ministry needs. So help here would be helpful. Currently the church I formerly served is helping us financially. We would welcome additional financial partners to help us with the work. Also, because God has blessed us with a building, we have the ability to host mission teams who could come help us with building projects, community outreach, and other ministry needs.
Are you a replanter? Find out how NAMB can help you discover your calling and gifting as a potential replanter.
Published February 21, 2017