Midwestern event focuses on church revitalization

About 1,000 Southern Baptist churches close their doors each year. But a generation of pastors committed to church revitalization could reduce that number dramatically, Johnny Hunt and panelists at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s inaugural Legacy Church Planting Roundtable said.

“Midwestern Seminary was honored to host the inaugural Legacy Church Planting Roundtable,” Midwestern President Jason K. Allen said. “I am praying that church replanting, or revitalization, will capture the imagination of our generation like church planting has, proving both to be used of God to bring renewal and revival to the church.”

Each participant in the recent panel discussion shared stories from his ministry about legacy church planting, also known as church revitalization, and took questions from a group of more than 100 pastors in attendance.

Panelists expressed concern about the trend of failing churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, but they had high expectations for the growing movement of legacy church planters—those who build new ministries in dead or dying churches. Allen moderated the discussion.

“We’ve got to stop the death rate [of churches] if we’re going to really, genuinely increase the birth rate,” Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said.

Responding to Southern Baptists’ hesitation to plant churches where dead or dying churches already exist, Hunt said, “We need churches where we already have churches.”

John Mark Clifton, church replanter and pastor of Wornall Road Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., said he hopes a church revitalization movement will begin. Wornall Road Baptist Church is affiliated with KNCSB.