The desire was to inspire churches in all stages of growth to take their efforts in soul-winning to the next level, and the second annual ReGenerate Church Revitalization Conference did not disappoint. The Charlotte, N.C., University City Church was packed with worshippers eager to learn ways to advance the mission of their local church on February 22-23, 2019.
Brad Cauley, church planting director for the Carolina Conference, invited Joe Kidder, professor of Christian Ministry and coordinator for doctor of ministry degree evangelism and church growth concentration at Andrews University, and Gary Blanchard, director for youth ministries at the General Conference, to speak for the weekend.
Kidder shared his powerful, interesting conversion testimony on Friday night. Born in Nineveh (currently Mosul, Iraq, 250 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq), he came into the Adventist Church while living there. He is currently raising money for and working with a church plant in his hometown in Iraq. Kidder encouraged the participants to interact with him during the morning lesson on Sabbath. He shared methods that do and do not work for reaching modern communities, and then said, “Now how are you going to use what you have learned?”
When Blanchard stood up to speak during the main worship session, he was especially excited to be there, and he delivered his message with contagious conviction. As he preached about the Adventist unique message from the three angels, and how all need to proudly proclaim it as they have been exhorted to do, he shared examples of the miraculous intervention of God when many are willing to be His hands and feet.
After lunch there was a panel discussion with Blanchard, Kidder, Marc Lien, and Randall Sargent. They took questions from the audience about the topics of small groups, church planting, and church growth, sharing their personal experiences on effective ways to be successful in those areas.
Lien, a pastor and small groups expert from San Antonio, Tex., was also one of the breakout session speakers on Sabbath afternoon. In 18 months, one of his small groups grew to 220-plus people attending every week, and has branched off into other small groups. Sargent, another breakout session speaker, is currently a member of the Durham Five Oaks Church in North Carolina. His testimony was on the power of prayer, how he became an Adventist, and how God worked on the church growth of his church in San Anselmo, Calif. Located in an area that is secular and antagonistic against God and Christians, his church was basically dead, with only four members in attendance. In a year, the church grew from four to 65 members through literally praying them through the door.
There are three kinds of churches: those that are dying, those that are simply maintaining the status quo, and those that are thriving and growing through the grace of God. God wants every single church to be that third kind, but what makes the difference? What makes some churches do well, and others just wither and fade away? The difference is you. Will you ReGenerate your church?
Carolina | April 2019