I've spent the last year of my life pastoring Griggs Memorial Baptist Church. The church formed nearly eighty years ago and built the space that we're in about sixty years ago. We don't feel old, however; we feel new.
Over the last year, we have revitalized, meaning we have brought a new energy to an existing church. There are new members, a couple of new leaders, but the same gospel.
Being a part of a revitalizing church is a unique experience. It's similar to a church plant; only there is already a pile of stories to be told. There's respect for history and hope for the future. A church culture from former days blends with one that we're creating from scratch.
The goal is to reach non-Christians particularly in the neighborhood we're in, Poe Mill. Poe Mill is full of great folks, but many are lost. Though they have heard the name of Jesus, many do not follow him. At least not on his terms.
While our mission is unwavering, and that is to reach the neighborhood, we're a church for everyone no matter where they live.
I get to talk to Christians all over Greenville, and many of them wonder what it would be like join a church like ours. And since many have asked, I figured I'd offer an answer to this question: Which Christians should join a revitalizing church?
People Who Want to Be Better Neighbors
For one reason or another, many believers are living around our church who are not actively part of a body. Our aim is to be a thriving local body which is actively making the lives of the citizens around us better. We're in it for the people around the church.
We want to hear their joys and pains; we want to celebrate with them and meet their needs and most of all we want to help them lived changed lives by introducing them to Jesus. We want to make the neighborhood a more wonderful place to live. We aim to change the culture of our radius into one that loves God and neighbor.
If you live around our church, this is for you. This is for your family. This for your friends. If you're not actively being the church somewhere else, why not join somewhere you're already loved?
People Who Want to Get Off of The Bench
These folks are sitting in the back of a church somewhere every other week - walking right in, walking right out, not in community and not serving the body.
There could be a handful of reasons you're in this scenario but let's skip to this possibility - since there are already people killing it in nearly every position you feel unworthy to put on the jersey and get out there.
Some personality types want to get involved but never compute how to do that in an established church because established churches don't seem to have something revitalizing churches always seem to have - need.
In a revitalizing church, there is always a clear need. There is always an invitation to fill the need. The obviousness of the needs helps some of us get in the game, right where you want to be.
People Who Want to Get Healthy
Are you sick of the church? My guess is that you've "eaten too much cake." At least that's how one college student put it when I was preaching at an event a few years ago.
He was talking about going to the mission field. He felt it was his responsibility. He said that he had received so much spiritual food that he figured it was time to wrap some up and send it to the neighbors, even if that meant going across the pond. He said that, in America, with his iPod full of sermons, he felt like a "fat kid eating cake."
What he meant was the sermons were good, but because he was never doing anything about them he wasn't getting any spiritual nutrition into his heart. He consumed, but it was time to pour out. Otherwise, he'd just end up feeling sick - getting annoyed with minor disagreements, getting theologically picky, and only critical never helpful.
Maybe that's your problem. Maybe that's why you feel sick of the church, and that's why you're not currently involved anywhere. You need to quit consuming, pour out, and experience a cleansing of your soul.
You can start by finding something bigger to make you sick. Maybe if you get sick of the heroin epidemic, the masses of hurting children, and the fact that way fewer people than you think have heard the gospel (even in Greenville) you'll finally be free from your grievances with the church.
People Who Want to Use Their Evangelistic Energy
There's nothing more refreshing than the energy of someone who has recently started following Jesus. I remember when I was seventeen and had just met Jesus. I was extremely excited, particularly about evangelism.
I didn't have a whole lot of tact, so my energy led the way. I would go to the mall and stop people who were walking around. I carried a clipboard to make it look like I was going to have them take a mall-sponsored survey. Then I'd ask them if they wanted to know Christ. Yes, there are infinitely better ways to make disciples, but at the time I felt like I had to give it a shot because I had so much energy.
Interestingly, I remember looking around the church and getting frustrated that we weren't all excited. It felt like I was the only one who got it or like everyone else was missing something. It's true that many of them were excited but had different spiritual gifts and ideas. But nonetheless, there were times even in the first five years of my salvation where I longed to be around people who wanted to emphasize some of the things my newly saved soul wanted to emphasize.
Revitalizations are good for new converts with energy who have no church home they're dedicated to yet. Because in a revitalizing church, energy is the name of the game. There is plenty to learn and plenty to do. Their excitement is nurtured and directed but free to flourish.
In no way are revitalizing churches, including ours, given a pass on kidnapping sheep from other folds. We'd never want anyone to leave their church in any kind of unhealthy way. However, there are some who Jesus is calling to the work of revitalization. You should pray and see if it's you.
If it's not you, pray that it is someone. Because many people would be eternally grateful to find Christians not far from their home worshiping Jesus, revitalizing the church and reaching the neighborhood.
Photo Credit: http://markemark4.blogspot.com