By Aaron Earls
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Each year, thousands of churches shut their doors and end their ministries. But two Southern Baptist leaders with experience and expertise in church revitalization want to do something about it.
A new podcast, Revitalize & Replant with Thom Rainer, will explore the difficult ministry of turning a church around and answer questions from those serving in struggling congregations.
“Revitalize & Replant allows me the opportunity to respond directly to questions from pastors and church leaders in those circumstances and give hope to them and others.”
Launching Oct. 5, the weekly podcast will be a joint venture between the North American Mission Board and Lifeway. Jonathan Howe, director of Strategic Initiatives at Lifeway, will serve as host of the podcast.
“Because I share Kevin Ezell’s and the North American Mission Board’s passion for healthier churches, I’m excited to have them partner with us to launch this podcast,” Rainer said.
“I want to use the platform God has given us to do everything we can to help churches across North America become as healthy as possible.”
Mark Clifton, senior director of replanting at NAMB, will join Rainer for half of the podcast episodes.
Rainer said having Clifton as part of the podcast “will be a great asset. He has an undeniable desire to see churches become revitalized and renewed.”
Clifton is excited about the partnership as well.
“From speaking with him personally and reading his books and blogs, I know Thom Rainer and I share the same message—a message of hope for local church pastors,” he said.
“Lifeway and NAMB have unique resources that enable us to work together so effectively for this project.”
Each episode will feature a listener question as the starting point for a discussion about what pastors and church leaders can do to help revitalize their churches.
“We will give specific, practical answers that can be implemented right away,” Clifton said.
According to Clifton, leaders in declining churches often serve in isolation and feel uncomfortable reaching out. “The podcast will be a safe place for pastors who are struggling,” he said. “This will be friends sitting around the table talking about how we can help. There won’t be any judging or condemnation.”
He said he wants pastors to not feel isolated. “Thousands of leaders are going through this,” Clifton said. “I want them to know they are not alone and to give hope that others have been through this battle before.”
The podcast is not only for pastors at churches in need of revitalization but also for those who have a desire to help. “Maybe someone has driven by a church closing down and thought, ‘I wish I could do something.’ Revitalize & Replant will share ways you can,” Clifton said.
“It can also benefit pastors of larger churches who see other churches around them struggling and wonder how they might help.”
In addition to the soon-to-be-launched podcast, resources will also be available at ChurchReplanters.com. Those interested can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or TuneIn Radio.
Aaron Earls is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.