Many pastors and churches today are struggling. Pastors are discouraged, and some are leaving the ministry altogether. It’s been estimated that more than 80% of churches are plateaued or declining.
Yet, some churches are seeing a turnaround. A fresh wind is blowing. These churches are engaged and on mission with Christ. Professions of faith, baptisms and attendance are up. Discipleship is happening.
What is making the difference in these churches?
Pastors in these turnaround churches model personal evangelism and equip their members to evangelize. Church consultant Thom Rainer has said that the reason churches are not reaching more people for Christ is because they are not even trying. Pastors in turnaround churches take personally Paul’s admonition to Timothy to do the work of an evangelist.
These churches are experiencing times of refreshing as the power of the gospel once again takes center stage. Here are some characteristics of these turnaround churches.
They are rediscovering the supernatural power of the gospel for growth and sanctification as well as for initial justification. The gospel is not the diving board into the swimming pool of Christianity, it is the whole pool of living water. The gospel has life-transforming power for the sinner and saint alike.
Pastors in turnaround churches take personally Paul’s admonition to Timothy to do the work of an evangelist.
These churches are applying the whole gospel to the whole person. When Jesus told the disciples to follow Him, He meant to follow Him and He took off walking. For the next three and a half years He went into the villages and He did two things: heal and preach. Turnaround churches are rediscovering the power of the gospel to meet the needs of both body and soul.
They are intentionally developing processes of discipleship for new believers and loving them into the family of God. These churches develop a plan to get newborn believers rooted and grounded in the faith. This plan includes personal one-on-one care. These turnaround churches train existing members to personally disciple and nurture new believers, enfolding them into the body of Christ.
Pastors who model personal evangelism are experiencing a turnaround in their churches. Imagine what would happen if, this year, every N.C. Baptist pastor committed to prioritize personal evangelism and then trained one willing member to do this same. If each one saw one person come to Christ and follow in baptism, N.C. Baptists would experience a major increase in baptisms for the year.
Added to that, members would experience the life-changing power of the gospel for both sinner and saint, ushering in a refreshing wind of revitalization from the presence of the Lord.
by Steve Harris / Great Commission Catalyst, Regions 9 & 10 / Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
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