Data from the North American Mission Board (NAMB) suggests that 90 percent of today’s churches need some aspect of revitalization. To address this growing concern, NAMB further recommends that all churches complete a health assessment every 15 to 20 years in order to identify and readjust to the unique challenges they face in moving to a healthy future. CMBA recognizes that many members of our Family of Churches are also facing uncertain futures because of difficult circumstances today, and are in need of revitalization assistance.
“We desire healthy churches,” says CMBA Church Health & Resources Team Leader David Waganer. “We are currently working with the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) and NAMB for training and to provide the people and tools needed for revitalization resourcing. Working together is important.”
As part of a CMBA Administrative Team reorganization in January 2023, Associational Missions Strategist Jamie Rogers created sub-teams to address needs throughout the association. Waganer leads the CMBA Church Health Team and recently took several members, along with other members of CMBA and SCBC, to a NAMB training to learn more about how to address revitalization needs and what resources are available to help churches.
The training included specific ways CMBA can work with churches to explore situations with key lay leaders, create recommendations within that small group, do in-depth examinations in the church’s context, and assist lay leaders to present the findings to the larger church body. These steps provide a customized assessment and, ideally, help the church create a vision plan to move forward.
“We often think every church has the same problem, but sometimes there are multiple layers,” Waganer explains, adding that the CMBA team will not “come in with immediate answers. We will listen.”
Including Waganer, the six-member team from CMBA that attended the training were: Bill Crews, pastor of GraceChurch of Columbia; Freddy Johnson, pastor of North Point Community Church; Travis Hoeben, interim pastor of Greenlawn Baptist; Brandon Denning, a chaplain currently serving CMBA with pulpit supply; North Trenholm member Joe Copeland, who also serves as interim pastor of First Baptist Ridgeway; and, Associational Missions Strategist Jamie Rogers.
Denning calls the NAMB revitalization process balanced in its approach to evaluating a struggling church’s situation while fostering spiritual needs, and that equips a fully-informed church to take its next step.
“Now is the time for revitalization, and there needs to be a sense of urgency in every CMBA church,” Denning says, while underscoring the critical need for personal relationship building. “Churches are losing a sense of godliness in our communities. We are becoming more isolated in our relationships with others. If done correctly, a church revitalization can empower every member to love and serve their community in the right way and in the way churches should be doing things.”
For his part, Hoeben said the training opened his eyes to the widespread need for revitalization among churches – in CMBA and nationwide – and that it’s “not that we should do something about this, we need to do something about this.” He points to the biblical call for churches to make disciples and live out the Great Commission as the goal on which every church should refocus.
“This is another reason to belong to a local Baptist association and a larger association of churches,” Hoeben says of a church’s revitalization need. “Because how do you do this without proper wisdom, guidance, and a support system? It’s a process that takes input from a lot of different places to be able to experience a successful renewal or revitalization.”
Rogers agrees, and says the association is ready to support CMBA churches that recognize a need for revitalization. “The association’s leadership is so honored to be able to serve our churches by coming alongside of them to assist as they seek to better carry out our Savior’s commission to His Church,” he says. “It’s imperative that we make this our priority as churches and as an association. We have no other mandate to fulfill. His glory is worth it and so are the people that are waiting to hear the good news about Jesus so that they, too, can have life in His name.”
Waganer assists CMBA churches in need of pulpit supply, disciplemaking training, or that are in the midst of conflict or personnel issues. This work helps him assess other needs in a church and can lead to identifying when a church is also in need of revitalization, especially during an interim time when a church is without a senior pastor. When working with a congregation of any size or stage in its life cycle, Waganer’s operating principle is that every church has the potential to be effective with the gospel.
“Biblically speaking, we have a lot of churches with ‘dry bones.’ Many of our churches are drying up. But in God’s hands, and as long as they are willing to do His work, He isn’t finished with them yet,” he says.
Waganer reports that many CMBA churches are currently in the midst of revitalization efforts and a growing number of churches are becoming open to having conversations about the process. He says members of the CMBA Church Health Team are available now and more teams are being assembled to assist churches with revitalization needs. Long-term plans for implementation also include regular church training events.
The team is “looking at a lot of different ways to help churches,” and recognizes the need for prayer throughout the process. “We have to contextualize how we go about revitalization. Assisting churches isn’t automatically a one-size-fixes-all approach. We adapt, listen, and adapt again,” Waganer explains. “We are also reminded of spiritual warfare when working with unhealthy churches. God wants healthy churches, but Satan works against that any way he can.”
For more information about how your church can take the first step in the revitalization process, contact Waganer at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 803.931.6302. Rogers may be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 803.235.0049.