The Merriam Webster Dictionary provides us the following definition for the word revitalize: “to give new life or vigor to.” Indeed, revitalize can be described as “breathing new life into, reinvigorating, rejuvenating, stimulating, reanimating, etc.” It is a beautiful term that is accompanied by both hope and expectation. And when applied to the church context, revitalization is especially significant. Why? Because it refers to the restoration of spiritual vitality and strength within God’s people.
Unfortunately, there are many churches/areas that need to be reanimated. Our own North American Mission Board underscores this plight when it states, “On average, seventeen Southern Baptist churches shut their doors for good every Sunday, leaving underserved and unreached neighborhoods in cities across North America.” In November 2015, we observed this reality and committed ourselves to the revitalization task in our Strategic Plan Report:
Action must be taken in order to reverse this decline and encourage vibrant faith communities. Already, Temple Baptist Church has supported the church revitalization effort of Southern Baptists and Louisiana Baptists by assisting other churches in Bible schools, community surveys, and personnel partnerships. The church staff and the Strategic Planning Committee are convinced that Temple Baptist Church has been placed in North Central Louisiana to have an influence in renewal and revitalization...Previously, Temple Baptist Church has demonstrated concern for its regional responsibility...Now, Temple has another opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission in its sphere of influence.
Last Wednesday, our church family saw the opportunity before us and voted to begin a new work/service in the Barnett Springs area. For many years, Barnett Springs Baptist Church provided a Gospel presence in its respective community, but as of December 31, 2017, it discontinued its worship services there. I’m grateful for the legacy of the many folks who faithfully served Barnett Springs and its community through the years. Those families (not the least of which include Lynn and Edith Hawkins) should be honored for their work and for their courage. As noted last week, the remaining members recognized that there needed to be a “reinvigorating” of the ministry in that area, so they made the decision to convey the church building and the property upon which it sits to us in hopes that a new work could begin.
This means we have a lot of opportunities/challenges/blessings before us! We have an incredible chance to reach a multigenerational, multiethnic community through the launch of a new worship service in that area. And I do believe we can reach people who would never walk into our current Temple facilities. Our staff has referred to this new service simply as “The Springs,” and we know we have a lot of work to do to prepare the ground before we kick off a corporate worship event. Thankfully, we have staff like Bro. Ben and Bro. George that will give leadership to this effort, but we need many folks to be involved. You will hear more about our efforts in the days to come; but if you are interested in helping in any way, contact Ben, George, or me. By the way, I know that the Temple family cannot bring revitalization alone, but we must be the conduit that God uses for His glory! He alone deserves the praise!