At the outset of this New Year, in the context of myriad resolutions and positive intentions, I must seize the opportunity to affirm and appreciate the extraordinary missional efforts put forth by each of the conferences, administrators, pastors, and members during our 2019 Year of Evangelism in the Southern Union. Because of God’s grace and empowerment of our feeble efforts, the Southern Union achieved unprecedented growth last year. Congratulations for ending the year strong. The membership of the Southern Union surpassed the 300,000 mark as a result of many hands on deck for the salvation of men, women, boys, and girls. Again, on behalf of the Southern Union Administration, I say thank you for tremendous exercised faith in God and superlative teamwork.
This year the focus of our mission to reach souls for Jesus will sustain, but we will place an emphasis on the revitalization of plateauing and declining churches. There are multiple churches across the eight conferences of the Southern Union that are battling for legitimacy and survivability. Resources which foster vibrant ministry within many of our congregations are waning or have dried up. People who have enthusiastically joined our worship centers are missing. Those members who have stayed by the church through active membership are discouraged. Others are overwhelmed, exhausted, tapped-out in energy, and downright disheartened as they quest to hold on. I’m committed to bringing help to as many marginalized churches as God would give us the resourcefulness with which to partner. This is our primary fixation for 2020.
The Union and conference ministerial directors — coupled with the eight conference presidents, three university presidents, and AdventHealth executives — have committed themselves to the required missional integrity to tackle a meaningful church revitalization initiative within the Southern Union borders.
Roger Hernandez, Southern Union ministerial director, has commissioned the Southern Union administration in our varied spectrum of travel itineraries to factor in as many small churches (100 members or less) as possible. This is a challenge we have accepted. While multiple reaping meetings will continue, it is our intention to strengthen congregations through preaching, training seminars, continuous evangelism, and incessant exposure to help resources that are identified.
One of my favorite authors, Tod Bolsinger, in his book Canoeing the Mountains, points out:
“The culture is changing rapidly, and churches are facing change on an unprecedented scale. Churches and church leaders are becoming increasingly irrelevant, even marginalized. We have to learn to lead all over again.”
With the increase in immorality and violence, the waning of the church, the obsession to acquire material possessions by professed Christians, there seems to be no way that God’s Church will be able to accomplish the task given to it. As we review the manner in which the early Church met these same obstacles and came out victoriously, we will find hope for the revitalizing of our churches and winning the world for Christ. Jesus came to this world to reveal God’s love to lost human beings. He established a Church through which He was able to reach every person who has ever lived with the story of salvation. –RCS
Southern Union | January 2020