Legacy Church as an Instrument to Bring More Glory to God
In his book “Reclaiming Glory. Revitalizing dying churches,” Mark Clifton assumed, like all of us, that when a church dies, it brings shame to the Gospel. As a new Director of Missions in the state of Kansas, he was in charge of nearly 150 churches and it seemed that dying churches were haunting him.
Clifton had a background in church planting and all his career, he held the opinion that planting new churches was the tool to penetrate lostness in the emerging culture in the inner cities as well as in the suburbs. Exploring Revelation 2:2-5, in the letter to the church in Ephesus, Jesus says:
2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Clifton writes that the pathway to new life for a dying church is repentance and remembering. This remembering is not the nostalgic kind of remembering that builds pride through control and a desire to return to a better time. Instead, says Clifton, it is to remember the legacy of missions and ministry that birthed the new church in the first place and become broken to return to that place once again. This kind of remembering can only happen in the other side of repentance.
This is the heartbeat of replanting a church. Clifton calls it the process that ensures a continued legacy for near to death churches throughout North America, by leading them to reengage with the missions and ministry that laid the foundation of the church.
It is far beyond taking away organs, choir robes and pianos and replacing them with contemporary music. It is more than dressing the pastor in jeans, leaving his tie at home and his shirt untucked, hanging over his belt. It is going back to the mission and reason that this original church was planted and going again to the heart of Jesus and listening what his command is.
In the Rowan Southern Baptist Association, we strive to help our churches go back every year, every month or as often as possible, to reengage in the mission God gave every specific church. No one size fits all, but the same Spirit can lead better. Let’s develop this year, the discipline of hearing the Lord.
Jonas Perez, Director of Missions
Mark Clifton: Reclaiming Glory. P.14 Broadman and Holman. Nashville TN 2016