ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan., had been seeking to launch a new campus to their west in 2013 when a struggling church reached out and asked about potentially becoming the location for that campus. Roughly five years later, that campus became an autonomous, self-sustaining church led by Matthew Clough. His church, Fellowship West, has already teamed up with another congregation to launch an additional new campus.
Clough was recognized as the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Replanter of the Year during the August 29-30 Replant Summit held in Alpharetta.
“I am deeply honored to be named Replanter of the year,” Clough said in a statement following the Summit. “Replanting the two campuses of Fellowship West has been one of my greatest joys in ministry. I am especially grateful for my pastor, Steve Dighton, who first had the willingness to invest in me and send me out, NAMB for allowing me to play a part in this vital role of replanting dying churches and of course my Fellowship West family that allow me the incredible privilege of being their pastor.
“Their willingness to continually lay down their preferences for the sake of the gospel is a beautiful testament to their love of God and His Kingdom.”
With a combination of keynote messages, breakout sessions and worship, the Replant Summit hosted 250 pastors, church leaders and wives to encourage, inspire and equip those who are leading or considering a replant in their congregations.
Mark Clifton, NAMB’s director of Replant, described NAMB’s care for dying, struggling churches for those in the room.
“You can be grateful that in this decade we have determined under the leadership of the Holy Spirit that dying churches are worth everything we can give them for God’s glory,” Clifton said. “What you’re experiencing here is some of the best news in the Southern Baptist Convention. [Every year, approximately a] couple hundred churches that would have closed their doors are now alive and thriving in cultural headwinds we never could have imagined 20 years ago. God is at work among us, and we can be deeply grateful for that.”
Clifton opened his message by acknowledging the difficulty of replanting or revitalizing a local church by preaching from Matthew 11 and John the Baptist’s doubts about Jesus. The struggles John faced led him to lose sight of Jesus’s identity, and the struggles a pastor faces may lead him to question his calling as a pastor.
“Only eternity is going to reveal the true result of your labor…I believe with all of my heart that if God were to pull back the curtain from heaven for just a moment,” Clifton said, “even those of us who serve in the most out-of-the-way, seemingly dead places, if God were to pull back the curtain of heaven for just a moment and show us the true benefit of our labor, we might become so prideful we wouldn’t be good anymore. It isn’t about you or me. My God says this, ‘that my Word never goes out and comes back void.’”
Six other speakers led main sessions during the two-day event, delving into subjects like the call of a pastor, managing time well, outreach and preaching, among other topics.
Caleb Duncan began leading the West Florida Baptist Association in late 2021, serving just over a dozen churches when several came together to begin discussing revitalization.
“There were so many books and resources on revitalization that I didn’t know what direction to take,” Duncan said before he went to a Replant training event in early 2022. “When I randomly went to that Replant training, it was almost as if the Lord had answered that prayer and gave us a good process to go through with our churches.”
Now, four churches in the association are going through a replant process, and Duncan described NAMB’s Replant team as “totally accessible” and willing to walk through any situations that a church may face.
“I would just encourage any church or associational leader to check out what NAMB is doing with Replant because it’s extremely helpful,” said Duncan.
For more information and resources related to Replanting, visit namb.net/church-replanting. Videos of the sessions from the 2022 Replant Summit will be available to the public later this year.
Published September 1, 2022