“What about a dying church brings glory to God?” Wrestling with this question is what led Mark Clifton to shift his focus from planting churches to replanting dying churches.
For a long time the prevailing wisdom was to avoid investing resources into the black hole of dying churches. It’s been common to run away from them, avoid them and let them die. Over the last decade, however, there has been a continual increase in awareness and effort given towards dying churches in North America. How might God be calling you to serve a dying church?
God is calling more people to the gritty and glorious work of replanting dying churches. How does a called and qualified replanter find a replant? Replanting is messy. It is often challenging, from finding a church ready and willing to be replanted to providing financially for a replanter and his family.
Replanting requires commitment to a radical dependence on the Lord. You aren’t smart enough, strategic enough or dynamic enough to replant a dying church. But this is precisely why God is calling people to this work. Replanters are like Gideon’s army, and we get to be co-laborers with Christ to serve his bride.
Like discerning God’s will for any area of our lives, pursuing replanting must start with prayer. Bob Bickford and Mark Hallock wrote a book called “Am I a Replanter.” Use this resource as a guide to praying through this calling for 30 days.
Pursue confirmation in your calling through guided conversation with a trusted ministry coach or mentor. The North American Mission Board offers a free Replanter and Revitalizer Characteristic Survey that serves as a self-assessment tool based on research.
The free report provides discussion questions and resources to help you learn more about yourself and replanting. Take time to wrestle with and confirm this call with the Lord, with your family and with wise counsel.
Finding where God has called you to replant is more complicated than finding a place to plant or even finding a normal pastorate. Connecting with local planters who are already working with these churches can help you become aware of their need, and let them know of your calling. Leaning into your N.C. Baptist and association network can open these opportunities. Grab a meal together, and ask questions about churches in their area.
Replanting takes time. Leverage this season of waiting to prepare for the work ahead.
For more information about revitalization and replanting, or to connect with your Revitalize NC team, visit ncbaptist.org/revitalization.
If you think your church may be in need of revitalization or can help another church with the process, find out by taking a quick, free online assessment.
by JimBo Stewart, Replant Pastor of Redemption Church and Revitalization and Replanting Strategist for Jacksonville Baptist Association.