Sartain helps equip, revitalize smaller congregations

Published Aug 23, 2018

FRESNO — Ken Sartain brings a wealth of experience to his new position as leader of the California Southern Baptist Convention small church initiatives team (SCIT).

A bivocational pastor for six years, Sartain also was president and chief executive officer of Connecting With Purpose, a support partner to churches focusing on revitalization through church health and leadership. He was pastor of First Baptist Church in Hughson before joining the CSBC staff.

Sartain, a US Navy veteran, said his goal for SCIT is to provide resources “directly to the church,” noting, “There are approximately 1,000 small congregations (defined as any church with 100 or fewer in membership for five or more years) within the Convention and we want to provide an innovative approach to serving them.”

Partnering with local associations and directors of missions, SCIT is “tasked with supporting, encouraging and working with the small church to reach the lost for Christ,” Sartain said, “and to strengthen discipleship and seek to be worthy of the calling of Christ Jesus.”

“Our primary focus is to ensure we honor small churches by being trustworthy in our relationships, which means asking the tough questions about existing conditions (spiritual, financial, emotional, mental, etc.) to assess the impact the church is making in its local neighborhood.”

Phase One of his plan for SCIT, Sartain said, is to “build trust between the small church and the Convention. This trust, we believe, is founded upon the actual issues the small church faces and not assuming that what another church did is the one-size-fits-all answer for every congregation.”

“Each church has developed its own culture to address the issues it faces, and as such, needs practical applications that are framed in biblical principles and aimed toward the culture of that particular church.”

To honor the purpose and mission of the small church, Sartain said he plans to “develop biblically-based actions and processes framed in three primary areas: Love the Lord, Love Others, Go, Make Disciples.”

Sartain also noted SCIT will provide the opportunity for counseling and encouragement for the small church pastor and his family “in an environment where they can release some of the stress of being a small church leader, and the complexities that go along with it.”

“If you and your family are healthy,” he explained, “the small church benefits greatly, and thus more people hear the gospel.”

Sartain said he is commissioning research into the impact of the small church, focusing on lifecycles in those congregations.

“We should know just what is at stake as we struggle internally due to trust issues, conflict and misdirected focus,” Sartain said. “The research will be used to refine our focus on resourcing the small church during transition.”

SCIT also will use Phase One to tighten the accuracy of information regarding small churches.

“This data, although clinical in nature, will assist with the scope and scale of the support required to ensure all small churches have equal access to resources,” Sartain explained, “but also that each small church has a voice in what CSBC provides.

“If we are serious about the imperative from our Savior, SCIT must be all about His purposes and commandments. In that framing, SCIT is really all of us.

“With the highest percentage of every denomination’s congregations being ‘small,’” Sartain said, “the opportunity to see God’s Kingdom dramatically impacted by a refreshed and revived church is a worthy goal.”