The “Send>>North America” Church Growth and Revitalization Conference will feature past Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt as keynote speaker when it meets Jan. 14 at the South Florida Urban Impact Center in Hialeah.
The conference will be similar to one held last January in Brandon, said Al Fernandez lead strategist of the Convention’s Church Planting Group and director of the Urban Impact Center—except that it will be translated simultaneously in Spanish.
The conference is expected to draw more of a multicultural audience from I-4 south, he explained.
“Revitalization is a huge topic in any urban environment. In Miami and really all of South Florida there is constant transition of people. The mission field is in constant flux. So a church targeting a certain people group ends up realizing within a 20-year span that all those folks have moved out of their community and have been replaced by different people.”
Fernandez cited a recent example of this urban challenge as experienced by Coral Baptist Church, an Anglo congregation that gave their church building to a Hispanic group in 2005 to more effectively reach residents in their community. In January 2014 the Hispanic group, which kept the name, Coral Baptist Church, will give the church building to an English-speaking Hispanic group.
“All these churches reached and baptized people but to reach new people they needed to die and birth something new,” said Fernandez.
As a community becomes more diverse the reality is the existing churches will plateau and decline, Fernandez explained. “Most churches and people have a hard time reinventing themselves, but it can be done.”
He recalled First Baptist Church in Perrine, which renamed itself Christ Fellowship to better focus on the city instead of just a community.
“The name change was not the solution, but the focus on who they are reaching. First Perrine reached tons of people for 30 years but to continue reaching new people it had to change or begin the slow journey of death,” Fernandez said.
“Revitalization is a vital topic that needs to be discussed,” he continued. “For too long our focus has been the church when in reality it should be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church has been given the mandate to share the Gospel. The Gospel comes first, the church is the vehicle.”
“I am hoping that the meeting will encourage conversation among Florida Baptists on what is the best thing plateaued and dying churches can to do for the sake of the Gospel.”
To attend the “Send>North America” conference, register online at namb.
net/revitalization. The registration cost of $15 per person will include conference notebook, lunch, refreshments. For more information: email email@example.com or call 800-226-8584, ext. 4060.
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