The “RevitalizeNC” podcast is hosted by Terry Long, church health and revitalization strategist with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Each episode features a leading expert in church revitalization to offer help, hope and encouragement to pastors and ministry leaders.
In this episode, Long welcomes Chuck Lawless, professor of evangelism and missions and dean of doctoral studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, for a conversation about characteristics that reflect church health. They discuss the importance of defining a vision and goals for becoming a healthy church, including a biblical commitment to teach God’s Word, worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, prayer, fellowship and an outward focus toward global missions.
Here is an excerpt from this podcast:
Long: Give us a few more Scriptures to study on what a healthy church is.
Lawless: I would look at the book of Acts, chapter 2, when we read about the churches committed to the Apostles’ doctrine, to the breaking of bread, to prayer — where they’re worshiping with awe and wonder. We see what happens in a church where God is working.
I would look at Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew’s expression of the Great Commission. You see it in Mark 16, you see it in Luke 24, you see it in John 20, you see it in Acts 1:8. Five times in the New Testament is a picture of Jesus giving this mandate to go to the nations. And so, those Great Commission passages ought to compel us to ask, “Are we that kind of church?”
I use the book of Ephesians — you can use several of Paul’s writings — but the book of Ephesians very clearly lays out a theological foundation in the first three chapters, and then it builds on that foundation with application in the last three chapters — that we live out our faith in our personal life, in our home, in our church and in our workplace. So as I look at that structure of what Paul does when he says understand your theology, but let your theology drive you to live the way that you’re supposed to live — that structure reminds me, as a church consultant, I do want to evaluate the theology of a church, and then I want to ask, if they get the theology right, what are they doing with that? Are they living it out?
Long: For those churches wanting to take the first step, what’s a couple things they can start doing?
Lawless: Here’s what you can’t do. You cannot, in two or three decisions, fix a church overnight. It’s just not going to happen. Typically when a church is in need of a revitalization, it’s not uncommon that they’ve had that need for some time. … Anyone who does the work of church revitalization has to be committed to the task. That means, “I am here for the duration. Because it is going to take us some time to turn this ship around, and I want to be a part of that.” So you, with persistence and patience, begin to look at where the church is and what steps you can take. Then I would say, look at the strongest parts of the church and ask, how can we build on those so that we maintain their strength and even make them stronger?
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by NC Baptist Communications