by Brother Neil O'Donnell
Is this scenario familiar? You are a member of a small church. You love your church and you love those people you worship with on Sundays. Sure there are things that could be better, but your church building and property is paid for and there is no other debt. Your church has a little money in the bank that you have been saving for a rainy day.
As you look around on Sunday morning what you see more than anything else are folks over 55. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but you are starting to realize that it’s more and more difficult to reach the kids in your area. You may or may not have a pastor right now, but either way you are wondering what it’s going to take to get the attention of the 25 to 45 year old crowd and get them enthused about church.
If any of this scenario rings true in your church then you are like thousands of other churches in America. The church, for the most part, is dying a very slow death. We are watching our churches dwindle in number and in relevancy for God’s kingdom. Some churches are growing larger and seem to be thriving, but the vast majority are shrinking. Just a death or two in a family or two and the church will be on the verge of non-existence.
Why aren’t people coming? There are dozens of excuses out there. The big church has more to offer. The big church has better music, better facilities and more to do. The neighbor down the road is going to xyz church and they tell you how exciting things are there and how things are really going on. Because we love our church we sometimes can become envious of the larger churches.
Maybe what I am writing hits close to home for your church. What shall we do? Should we stand by and watch as these churches die? We might have to. You see, Southern Baptist churches are autonomous. That simply means we can’t make a church do anything. We can pray with you and pray for you, but your church membership has to come to the conclusion that what it has been doing is not working and it needs some change.
In the state of Oklahoma only one third of people claim to be Christians. That means of the 49,760 people in Le Flore County 33,173 people are on their way to hell. There are a total of 53 churches in our association. We have approximately 8 churches that average 100 or more in their Sunday School or small groups. That means there are 45 churches that we could call small attendance churches. If half of the 33,173 people in the county were won to Christ that would be 16,586 new Christians. If half of them attended our 45 small attendance churches, each church would average 185 people on Sundays.
I know statistics like that are just mumbo jumbo. That isn’t the point. The point is there are literally thousands of lost souls in our area needing Christ and we are the ones supposed to be reaching them. It’s obvious that what we are doing isn’t working very well. Only 4 percent of the culture we are bringing up are being reached for Christ. Did you get that? 4 percent!
A group of pastors and churches in the Le Flore Baptist Association are coming together to make a difference in the kingdom. Through prayer and action they are making a commitment to partner with churches who desire to move forward in kingdom work and strengthen the kingdom of God in Le Flore County.
This is a group of churches, pastors and lay leaders who are burdened for sister churches and want nothing else then to strengthen other area churches in a mighty way. It might be through prayer, it might be through help with worship, it might be through canvasing your area of influence, or teaching. There are a variety of ministries that these churches are willing to partner with. They will covenant with a church for 24 months to solidify the churches standing in the community or area.
Let me introduce you to the Le Flore Baptist Church Revitalization Team or RV Team for short. Friendship Baptist Fellowship member Garry Haskins, Springhill Baptist pastor Don Laughlin, Poteau First Baptist member Jim Roberts, Poteau Southside pastor Jim Reed, Pocola First Baptist pastor Daniel Clark, Panama First Baptist pastor Jim Smith, Bokoshe Baptist pastor Wes Bates, Bethel Wister pastor Clyde Steelman, Albion First Baptist pastor Cecil Holcomb, Poteau First Baptist pastor Gentry Hill and BCM director Bentley Hill.
This group covers a wide variety of church sizes and systems. All are dedicated to partnering with churches in such a way as to bring value to the church of Jesus Christ and to Glorify God in all that is done.
If your church is interested in visiting with the RV team about a partnership please call the LBA office to schedule a meeting. The Holy Spirit of God is amazing and there is no telling what great things can take place if we come together as one and work to build God’s kingdom with new converts and quality discipleship. Prayerfully consider how the RV Team might partner with your church to move forward.
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