Leading a Turnaround Church

Leading a Turnaround Church

by Dr. Donald E. Ross – Author and Presenter at the 2017 Summit

What is a Turnaround Church? Turnaround Churches experience a decline nearly impossible to reverse, but somehow they do. Most churches in similar situations simply go out of business. What are the critical aspects of a church and pastor that see terminal decline turned into growth?

Let’s begin by defining a turnaround church. A turnaround church has recognized that, due to consistent decline, within a generation it will be out of business. This church has courageously decided to face the truth and make a series of extremely difficult and painful decisions to reverse that trend.


I’d like to say that “Everything rises or falls on mission” but I think someone has already captured that sentiment. Regardless, mission is critical. Understanding that both the leader and the church are part of the mission of Christ gives the needed elements to embrace a turnaround.

Mission says, “This is not about me, it’s about Jesus”. When we understand that nearly 4,000 churches a year go out of business, and we are not planting nearly enough to replace them, we can understand that turning around declining churches as well as planting new ones is very much a part of Christ’s mission.

In many ways, the challenge of a turnaround church was written for us 2,000 years ago in Revelation, 3:1-3. The letter to the church of Sardis says:  “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”

In a very real sense, a declining church may have had a reputation of being alive, but it is not alive now. It is on life support and needs help.

Both the pastor and church leaders need to work together to “strengthen what remains and is about to die.” This is hard work, but possible and needed, if the leaders and church are willing to pay the price to not only survive, but also learn to thrive.


This turnaround is usually led by a visionary leader, often brought in from outside the church’s current culture. The value of bringing in new leaders is that they are not stuck in the current thinking trends or bogged down by the church’s history. Continue reading

LeadNow National Internship

LeadNow National Internship

by Ashleigh Owens – LeadNow Internship Director

LeadNow National InternshipPastors, if you knew what you know now, what is one thing you would change about the way you lead? Picture how it would have benefited your organization to fully understand the importance of empowering culture while driving mission and vision. Imagine a future staff member walking into a leadership role equipped with all the desired competencies.

General Baptist Ministries is super excited to announce this fall we will be launching our very first internship program, LeadNow. LeadNow is specifically designed to provide exposure, experience, one-on-one training, and essential teaching necessary to build leadership competency in the intern’s ministry area. If you know of anyone who would be interested in this program, please give them our internship directors information to learn more about this opportunity. This program will be hosted at Relevant Church and is for 18-30-year-olds who are looking to take a giant leap towards reaching their full potential in leadership. Applications are being accepted for 20 interns from August 2017 through May 2018.

Are you 18-30 years old and looking to take a giant leap toward reaching your full potential in leadership? If so, General Baptist Ministries has some exciting news. This fall we will be launching our very first internship program, LeadNow, that will be hosted at Relevant Church in Locust Grove, Ga.

This program is unlike any other you’ve experienced. LeadNow is specifically designed to offer exposure, experience, one-on-one training, and essential teaching necessary to build leadership competency in the ministry area of your gifting. No matter what you do here, you’ll be on your way to reaching your full potential in the leader God has called you to be. Applications are now being accepted for 20 interns from August 2017 through May 2018. Check out the opportunities at www.leadnow.today.

The Impact of One Life - Ed Stevens

One Life Matters – Ed Stevens

by Mark Powell, Director of General Baptist International Missions

For many years, General Baptists have celebrated the life of Rev. Ed Stevens. Ed Stevens was a missionary who served on Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Chi Chi Jima. He died at an early age while en route to Guam to receive medical treatment. As is often stated, we honor his sacrifice each year through an annual international missions’ offering on the Sunday closest to September 22 in honor of his passing. But is that the only reason we honor this singular life? Not at all.

Ed Stevens accomplished an unbelievable amount of good in a few very short years. In doing so his life reminds all of us how one single life, consecrated to God, can have an eternal impact on thousands.

The length of Ed Stevens’ ministry as a missionary was from 1946-1952. Following his ordination in 1945, Ed was on his way to Guam less than one year later. He served briefly on Guam from 1946 – 1947 where General Baptists are the oldest Protestant denomination. He then pioneered a new work on Saipan when General Baptists became the first protestant denomination on that island – making him not only a missionary but a church planter. The next two years were miraculous as Ed Stevens began a new outreach on the nearby island of Tinian to a leper colony, led Vincente Silencino to the Lord and baptized him, and laid the foundation for a new work on the island of Chi Chi Jima as the result of a hospital visit to a man from that island.

Ed Stevens in two short years accomplished more than many would in a lifetime! As a missionary, he pioneered Saipan, Tinian, and Chi Chi Jima. As a church planter, he started the Saipan Community Church which has literally touched thousands of lives. As a pastor/missionary, he ministered to the hurting in the leper colony on Tinian. As a personal evangelist, he led many to the Lord, among whom was a “Filipino boy” who would later become our first General Baptist missionary to the Philippines impacting thousands of lives and producing over 300 churches to date! As a pastor/evangelist he would make a hospital visit to a man from Chi Chi Jima resulting in a new work for General Baptists on that island.

The product of these two years has made an eternal impact on so many that only heaven knows the singular value of this one man’s life! The ministries on Guam, Saipan, and the Philippines continue to change lives to the present day.

Ed Stevens spent two years back in the States from 1949 – 1951 where he finished his degree program at Oakland City University, served as pastor, and tragically lost a son in an accident. Despite the pain of that loss, Ed, his wife Gertie, and son David would return to Chi Chi Jima in the fall of 1951 to continue the work he had pioneered three years earlier. In September 1952 Ed Stevens would fall ill and seek medical attention on Guam. His ship was in sight of Guam and ready to enter the harbor when God called this faithful servant home.

Continue reading


What is LAUNCH?

By Mark Powell, Director of General Baptist International Ministries

For many years, General Baptist International Ministries has received a VBS offering from churches across the denomination. Launch is an extension of that offering with a new program called General Baptist Day of Poverty with General Baptist youth especially in mind.

This year GBIM will produce both VBS and Day of Poverty material with one central goal: to launch General Baptist children and youth in missions’ awareness and involvement. The VBS and Day of Poverty will invite your kids to get involved locally and globally through education and giving. Mission One will be inviting these same youths to join GBIM as interns when they approach college and career age. We pray God will raise up a generation of missional General Baptists ready to change our world.

In the latest issue of the Messenger you will find articles from Christina Massey, Director of Faith Home, detailing the LAUNCH (VBS) offering and its purpose; GBIM Director, Mark Powell, shares information about the Day of Poverty; and recent intern Kaebra LaGrange shares about her recent internship on Saipan.

For more information about LAUNCH, please contact the GBIM office. For specific information about internship please contact Dr. Jim Pratt, Mission One Coordinator, 100 Stinson Drive, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901 or 573-785-7746.

Raise the Roof! Faith Home, Honduras

Raise The Roof! At Faith Home, Honduras

Rodney and Teresa Walls

New personnel, Rodney and Teresa Walls

Faith Home has experienced many changes in 2016. Changes in number of children, changes in staff, and changes in the way we see God. We can’t say enough of the greatness of our God and how we have seen Him move in the lives of the children and the ones who are caring for them.

We have seen sick children miraculously healed, families reunited, and lives literally saved by God’s provision of Faith Home for the abandoned and neglected children of Honduras. But the most important changes are the ones we have seen in the hearts of the children and young adults as they accept Christ and learn to embrace His unconditional love that comforts in all circumstances. Some of their stories bring tears of joy and some just pure thankfulness for our God’s timing, which is always perfect:

  • One sibling group came with all four children very sick. Two of them spent a week in the hospital. We were told that in another week on the street that they would not have lived.
  • One of the newborn babies that arrived was so severely malnourished that family services told us later they were surprised he made it through the night. His mother is in prison for stealing food to survive.
  • One of the young boys who arrived this year told us this was the best Christmas he had ever experienced and one he would never forget.
  • Many of the new children have shed tears of joy over the simple things of new clothing, shoes and toys (things they never had before).
  • An 11-year-old was so excited to be able to attend school for the first time…ever.
  • One child commented to his mother at a supervised visit that they get to eat three times a day …every day!

We are thankful for Faith Home and the people who so generously support this ministry. 2016 has been full of changes mixed with moments that have abundantly blessed the hearts of the children and adults of Faith Home. We are excited to see what changes God has in store for Faith Home as we LAUNCH a new year.

LAUNCH!LAUNCH. The VBS offering in 2017 will go to help us to change more lives by bringing more children to Faith Home. Along with the blessing of 33 new children in 2016 (13 of whom were reunited with family) came challenges and extra expenses. We are grateful for all who are helping with additional sponsorships and funds for foster care and newborn baby care, but we also have other housing needs.

Currently all of our casas are occupied. We are keeping the newborns in the missionary houses. Church Planting / Medical Missionaries Rodney & Teresa Walls are the primary caregivers of baby Ely who has hip dysplasia along with fetal alcohol syndrome. Ely arrived when she was a month old and only four pounds.

Isaias with Christina Massey

Isaias with Christina Massey

Faith Home Director Christina is the primary caregiver of Isaias who came to us when he was 13 days old and under four pounds. Baby Samuel arrived when he was seven days old and a little over three pounds. We have a night nanny that keeps Samuel and another nanny who works with our teen girls to help with the babies during the day.

We have a house for each age group of boys and girls and we are currently at capacity. We are praying for more staff and children in 2017, which means we need additional housing and repairs to current casas. Casa 3 (destroyed in the earthquake of 2009) is currently being rebuilt but needs an extra $30,000 to complete.

Casa 3 will be able to house up to 16 children depending on age. We have built flexibility into the design of this casa, so that it can be used as a toddler house or for older transition children depending on the needs we have at any given time.

The children are growing up quickly, so the dynamic of our campus is constantly changing. Casas 5, 8, and the transition houses outside need metal roofs (approximately $2,000 each) to get the weight of the tejas (clay tile) off of the aging casa walls.

There are also several possible remodel plans that could allow us to house more children in 2017, all of which takes additional funding. Please consider how you can help Faith Home LAUNCH 2017 by helping with our housing needs and allowing us to impact more lives in Honduras with the Love of Christ.

7 Suggestions to Help Make Easter a Big Day!

by Franklin Dumond – Director of Congregational Ministries

Make Easter a Big Dat!1— Start Early!

At the beginning of every calendar year pastors can look ahead to predict the most likely higher attended and lower attended days of the year. By planning ahead to accentuate the high days and mitigate the low days the overall average attendance may be increased and more and more people won to faith in Jesus Christ. What are my most likely higher attendance days? Look at the attendance records from last year on a line graph. When does your attendance spike? Why? Take a hard look at your current programming. There must be something in your congregational culture that brings these high points.

2 — Add A Special Feature.

How many people are usually involved in leading worship on a given Sunday? Add a special feature whereby more people can be involved in meaningful participation and watch the visitors arrive…especially if you use the Children’s Choir and its members rehearse for a few weeks in advance! For Easter a wise pastor can plan for a Spring Baptism. Easter celebrates the new life of the risen Christ, which is also the Christian symbol of Baptism. The now secular tradition of new clothes for Easter can be traced back to the ancient church when Easter Sunday was Baptism Sunday and each baptismal candidate was given a new white robe. Make Easter a fabulous family celebration with an Egg Hunt on the church lawn following Morning Worship. The beauty of the modern hen is that she lays plastic eggs so you don’t have to worry so much about the eggs spoiling by being outdoors for a while. (Note: While plastic eggs are undisturbed by warm temperatures, chocolate will melt if left in the warm sunshine for any length of time.) Is an added worship service needed? If Easter already brings the church to capacity should the plan include doubling seating capacity by adding another service? The church already offering a 10:30 a.m. Morning Worship may be well served to offer 9:00 a.m. Easter Worship, too. Always ask the key question, “What will I need to do to make sure that these special features work well?”

3 — Develop specialized promotion.

How will everyone know of the special day if you don’t tell them? How will they realize what’s going on if they only hear it once? Newspaper ads and yellow pages listings do little to attract the unchurched. Consider a saturation mailing. You can develop your own material, but you may want to bring in the professionals for the first time or two. Always be sure you have proper contact and location and schedule information included in your promotional piece. Continue reading

New Ministry in Baja California Mexico

A New Ministry in Baja California Mexico

Eylin RodriguezGeneral Baptist International Ministries is pleased to announce a new work in the Baja California area of Mexico. Pastor Rene Rodriguez and his daughter Eylin have played a key role in the development of this work. General Baptists already have an association of churches in the area and a Bible Institute. The new association has a close connection with General Baptist International as well as the Sheffield Association of General Baptists in southern California.

Eylin Rodriguez is the 25-year-old daughter of Pastor Rene Rodriguez, Director of Ethnic Ministry in Southern California. Born in Honduras, at the age of 13 her family moved to the USA. Eylin says of her childhood, “Some people can say that being part of a Pastoral family is difficult, I can say that on the contrary, I am blessed to be able to learn from them. I feel truly blessed to be a witness of the work that our Lord has done through many great men and women who have taken on the privilege of expanding the kingdom of God.”

Eylin married Jose Carlos Hernandez, and they have two beautiful children. In 2015 Eylin and Jose Carlos had a long conversation with the director of Sheffield Association of General Baptist Pastor Rene about the necessity of a new work in Mexico. Her family felt the call to make themselves available to work for the Lord and go wherever he desired to take them. As Eylin so aptly states it, “so now here we are in Mexico.”

On Saturday October 22, 2016, they had their first meeting in Tijuana Baja California, Mexico. Five Pastors decided to associate with General Baptists, giving birth to the Northern Mexico Association of General Baptists. They have also started a Bible Institute under the guidance of Pastor Rene who is the director and teacher of the Bible Institute in California. There are approximately 30 students and 3 fully accredited teachers. To date they are still looking for a more appropriate location between three cities, (Ensenada, Tijuana, and Tecate) since the students come from all three locations.

There are a total of eight associated churches who have started working with General Baptists and are ready to carry on the Great Commission. There are more meetings scheduled with pastors who want to know more of the work of General Baptists. Eylin states, “I am honored and thankful for being part of the all the work that is being done through International Missions of General Baptist here in Mexico.”

General Baptist International Ministries is currently committed to $200 a month to help sustain the new Bible Institute. If you would like to be a ground-floor partner with this new ministry, please contact GBIM, 100 Stinson Drive, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901, 573-785-7746.