Church revitalization difficult but necessary, Henard says at Southern Seminary chapel
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) —Expository preaching, personal evangelism, pastoral care, and congregational prayer are essential for church revitalization, said West Virginia Baptist leader William D. Henard III in a Feb. 9 chapel message at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“God is calling some of you to be church revitalizers. And you may go into a church and say… ‘There is nothing I can do.’ I want to let you know that there is always something you can do in [a struggling congregation],” said Henard, executive director-treasurer of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.
In his message, “Orthodox But Out of Focus: When a Church Needs Revitalization,” Henard, an adjunct professor of evangelism and church growth at the seminary, said 2 Timothy 4:1-5 illustrates that even when church revitalization is difficult and pastors feel limited in their ability to engineer change, they can be faithful in the four tasks of revitalization.
Henard, former pastor of Porter Memorial Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, used the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:1-7 as an example of how to determine when a church is dying and in need of revitalization.
“The Ephesian church represents the complete stages of a congregation” said Henard. “A congregation that was planted, that was growing, that became stagnant, and now is dying.”
The author of Can These Bones Live?: A Practical Guide to Church Revitalization, Henard emphasized the seriousness of churches closing their doors due lack of revitalization. He pointed to current statistics showing that while 3,500 to 4,000 evangelical churches are planted each year, the same number close their doors. Losing hope in the mission of the church is a real temptation. Henard, however, used Peter’s confession in Matthew 16:17-19 as a reminder that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church.
“Jesus has not given up on the church,” said Henard. “There is still hope for the church.”
Henard said church planting and church revitalization are not polar opposites and the two must go together if Christians are going to reach the world with the gospel.
“If we are going to have a church planting revolution, we got to have church plants out there planting churches,” said Henard. “And we got to have established churches planting churches.”
Tasked with orchestrating church revitalization and planting in West Virginia, Henard invited aspiring pastors in the seminary’s chapel to join him in reaching a state with 1.3 million unbelievers with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“If you want to do something that is exciting and challenging,” said Henard. “Come and plant a church in West Virginia.”
Audio and video of Henard’s chapel message are available online at sbts.edu/resources.