Published Mar 02, 2015
FRESNO – Church leaders were encouraged to take their churches to “the next level” during the first of six Elevate Summits planned throughout California.
Held at Woodward Park Baptist Church in Fresno Jan. 26, the first gathering featured a variety of speakers ranging from church growth specialists to tech advisors.
Randy McWhorter, leader of the California Southern Baptist Convention healthy church group that sponsored the gathering, began by explaining that “Elevate is meant to provide assistance to church leaders in developing a healthy church atmosphere where people are reached for and discipled in Christ.”
“It is born out of a heart to help CSBC congregations become healthy and growing.”
McWhorter said the healthy church group realized there is a big issue “with churches that just get kind-of stuck” and a “great need for revitalization.”
Providing numerous statistics of churches throughout California that are growing, plateaued or declining, McWhorter gave a definition for the categories: “Any congregation that has grown more than 10 percent in the last five years is considered a growing church. Any congregation that has declined more than 10 percent in the last five years is in decline; and any congregation in between those numbers is plateaued.”
Churches must continue to assess their ministry to become more efficient and effective and “fix what is failing – and that is exactly what revitalization is all about,” McWhorter declared.
He noted resources are available to help churches with those evaluations: directors of missions, the healthy church group and their consultation process, and leaders of healthy churches.
David Cooper, founder and president of Invictus Global, based in Florida, added that along with evaluation must come strategic planning, which is critical to the church fulfilling its mission and vision.
Explaining that no church is too big or too small to have a strategic plan, Cooper encouraged the group that “every great organization plans strategically.”
“God’s Word instructs strategic planning,” he asserted. The Bible is very detailed, and God gave specific directions to His leaders, Cooper said.
“Strategic planning translates concepts into blueprints – it takes our vision, mission and strategy and puts it into a roadmap” to help intentionally direct the organization.
Cooper noted that though church leaders put the strategies together, God “breathes on them” and opens the doors to allow the plans to come to fruition.
Strategic planning is continuous, he added: ” … doing the best you can with the knowledge you have … with analytical thinking and a commitment of resource to action.”
Calculate the cost
Churches must calculate the cost of fulfilling the vision, Cooper cautioned. “We are challenged to be stewards of the church.”
But it does take funding to fulfill the vision, added Trent Dunham, senior vice president of Dunham+Company based in Dallas.
Looking at fund-raising and church finances in terms of spiritual warfare, Dunham said “giving it all to Jesus” is not easy. “There’s going to be resistance to give our hearts fully to God.
“We have to approach life with a spiritual warfare mindset … we have to embrace the fact that we’re at war,” Dunham declared, adding that “money is one of Satan’s key battlefronts.”
He encouraged pastors and church leaders to build a culture of generosity in their congregations.
“Where we invest our money will prove where our heart is,” he said, recalling the children of Israel who first gave their possessions to “fund” the golden calf, but later gave to the work of God.
Dunham added that when the church provides funding for an initiative, it’s “not over – it’s only the beginning.”
“Fund development is relationship development,” he noted.
Six Elevate Summits
All six Elevate Summits will be identical and feature Cooper, Dunham, Nils Smith, Houston Clark and David Cherry. The events are scheduled for March 23 at Del Cerro Baptist Church in La Mesa; April 27 at Magnolia Church in Riverside; May 18 at First Southern Baptist Church in Gardena; June 29 at El Camino Baptist Church in Sacramento; and September 28 at Crossroad Church in Tustin.