The Truth About Revitalization

The Truth About Revitalization

Revitalization. Seems there is always a new buzz word that’s coming down the pike, but this one is long overdue. Revival is a word that may be worn out by time and history, so revitalization is taking its place. 

Maybe it’s for good reason. With so much mission drift, churches today know that it’s going to take more than a week of meetings to fix the systemic problems that plague us. Some estimate 1000 days and major course adjustments are required to truly turn a church around.

The Deceitful Thrill of Living Dangerously

The Deceitful Thrill of Living Dangerously

Not long ago my wife and I took our grandchildren to an amusement park in New Hampshire. We had a great time. Without question, our granddaughter’s favorite ride was the log ride. She had this love/hate feeling going on about the steep drop into the water where she got all wet. She said “I loved it, expect the part I didn’t like very much.” Whether you are 4 or 40, such rides can be a lot of fun. Perhaps they are so much fun because they scare us, even though deep inside we know we are safe. It is almost like seeing just how far we can go into danger, without actually getting hurt.

Dozens Respond During Wild Game Outreach

Dozens Respond During Wild Game Outreach

More than three dozen people responded to an invitation to follow Christ at a Sportsmen’s Banquet and Wild Game Dinner hosted by New City Church in Bath, Maine, on Oct. 1.

“Hunting is huge here, and the great thing about it is that … a lot of the folks who would find themselves out in the woods or spending time with a community of hunters would probably not be the ones who would be taking their families to church or coming to spiritual things,” said pastor Joel Littlefield.

Are We Taking Care of Our Missionaries?

Are We Taking Care of Our Missionaries?

New England is a mission field, and it’s important that we not forget it. We rank at the top or national surveys for the least churched and most biblically illiterate region in the nation.  I tell people often that we must think like missionaries because the prevalent culture around us is post-Christian.  That’s why one of our primary objectives is to reintroduce this culture to the Gospel.  As with any mission work with an unreached people group, you need missionaries (either homegrown or transplanted) to go and share Christ in faithfully. Praying, sending and funding missionaries is an ancient practice of the church and is vital to any mission endeavor. Why give to New England Missions Emphasis? Because missions is God’s means of making Christ known to this generation.

Local Ministry Needs Local Resources

Local Ministry Needs Local Resources

I have long been passionate about our region of the country. From my first missions experience here forty years ago while a college student from the South to my current position of service in church planting, those who are a part of our family of churches in this region have always recognized the difference New England represents. It is a place of spiritual heritage in our land. It is a place of cultural influence across the nation. And it is a place of significant impact upon every life touched by our economy and our education.

A Word from the Executive Director on New England Missions

I did not grow up Southern Baptist.  I can hear the gasps in the Deep South ringing in my ears as I make my confession, but it’s the truth. I had great Christian parents who raised me in a Baptist church, but it was a church that was anti-denominational. Not only were we not Southern Baptists, but we thought Southern Baptists were the enemy!

Highlights from SBC in Dallas

When I stepped off the plane, the wave of heat hit me! Wow, it is hot in Dallas. But the breeze of the Spirit was blowing across the city as over 9,000 Baptists from around the nation gathered for worship, preaching, reports of God’s work and decision-making for America’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. That included at least 31 people from New England who traveled to Dallas to represent our churches and voice the New England perspective.

Grandparents as Parents

Grandparents as Parents

Now more than ever grandparents are being called upon to rear their grandchildren. According to a recent nationwide study, there are 2.7 million grandparents raising their grandchildren here in the U.S.[1]Although there are countless reasons and scenarios in which a grandchild may need to live with their grandparents, the most common situations (68%) are related to substance abuse, abandonment, abuse and neglect. The number of grandparents raising their grandchildren is steadily increasing, and I believe, both as a pastor and someone who lived with his grandparents, it is time that we, the Church, take notice of this growing population within our congregations, seek to understand their unique struggles and start considering how we work together to support and reach out to them.

The Christian Outcast

The Christian Outcast

When we read the Bible we hear about Jesus loving the outcasts of society. When we think of outcasts today, we often think of those outside the church: the homeless, drug addicted or poor people. But I want to talk to you today about the outcasts inside the church – those in the Christian community that feel judged, unwelcomed and looked down upon. I have all too often felt this way as soon as I mention that I am divorced. 

A Word from the Executive Director on Serving Non-Traditional Families

I was speaking to a large group of middle schoolers. Knowing that few of them came from what my generation would consider the “traditional” family, I was trying to get them to discuss what it was like when their parents got divorced and how they could move beyond the pain of that experience. Clearly, I was not connecting well to the group. One young man, Kyle*, was sitting on the front row. He spoke up, saying, “Terry, my parents are not divorced. They were never married. I’ve only met my father once when I was little, and I don’t really remember him.”

High School Students "Accomplish More" as a Mission Team

This past year I had the opportunity to be a part of the Quest program.  Quest is a leadership development program for high school juniors that provides opportunities to grow in faith, leadership skills, service and team building in order to better equip us as godly leaders in our churches and communities. The culmination of this advantageous program is an overseas mission trip.  Students were sent to four different locations: South Africa, Hawaii, Scotland and the Dominican Republic. I was chosen along with eleven other students to go to the Dominican Republic. When I was told who would be on my team I have to say I was slightly confused.  Everyone on my team seemingly had extremely different personalities and interests, and I was under the impression that none of us had anything in common.

It Takes a Village to Plant a Church

Plainfield, VT, sits along a stretch of road called Route 2. While small and typical for a Vermont village, it boasts of great influence for this specific area. Goddard College, the alma mater for William H. Macy and the fruition of Unitarian/Transcendentalist educational ideals has its main campus on the edge of Plainfield. Tuesday evenings in the summertime becomes a vibrant nightlife for Plainfield. You can walk through the downtown streets, crisscrossing the Winooski River to the sounds of rushing water, a guitarist playing along the rock walls that line the street and yoga participants crossing the street to enjoy the Tuesday pizza special at Positive Pie.

A Word from the Executive Director on Being Better Together

I grew up in a church that did not believe in denominations. We were our own independent church separate from any other group. Though I appreciate the great spiritual training I got in that church, I regret the fact that we did not fellowship with a network of other churches in our area. I believe my spiritual growth was stunted because we were all alone as a church.

Don't Marginalize Small Churches

The young, exciting, big churches get a lot of good press and are often highlighted for their success. Perhaps rightly so. They have a lot of energy and resources to have an impact in their communities. But what about the small churches like mine -- God's little churches?  Many smaller churches are not growing. Some are shrinking. No new members are coming in, and the existing members are slowing down and passing on into heaven. What about churches like mine that don't see 100 or 50 or 25 baptisms a year? Sometimes we may not see even one baptism a year. What about the church that can't boast about numbers? What about the church that doesn't have a "praise team" so they sing hymns out of a hymnal, sometimes being moved to tears? What about the church that has to put off repairs and scrape the budget for funds to plow the parking lot for those 20 faithful people to get safely in the door on a wintry Sunday? What about the church like mine where people serve faithfully in volunteer positions for years or perhaps decades with no break, just because they love the Lord and they love their little church? Very often, the members of these small churches have a deep, abiding faith and are fiercely loyal to the church family and the mission of the church. 

Bi-vocational Ministry Has Benefits & Challenges

When I became pastor of First Church in Charlestown -- one of the oldest churches in Boston -- in July 2015, a large portion of our community thought that the church was closed, and the building was abandoned. The congregation consisted of about eight older people who had been attending the church for decades. We have grown slowly over the last three years, and we have been blessed to see people begin to grow stronger in their faith in that time. One of the challenges of pastoring a small church is that the church is unable to provide a full-time salary for me, and I am currently bi-vocational.  

A Word from the Executive Director on Small Churches

I often lead workshops for pastors of small churches. I typically start by asking the question: “What keeps small churches and churches led by bi-vocational pastors from being as Kingdom-minded as they would like to be?” Great discussions follow about the challenges small congregations face. Inevitably, the issue of pastoral burnout becomes a key part of the discussion. Pastors of small churches are already doing so much, and they just can’t add anything else to their agenda without burning out. So therefore, they never get to do all the Kingdom ministry they want to.

Knowledge of Apologetics Prepares Students for College, World

She stopped by our table on UDay at the University of New Hampshire. She was curious about our sign that described the use of reason and philosophy to explore the Christian worldview. She shared that she grew up in church and had been very active in youth group. However, since she came to UNH she had grown cold to Christianity and doubted that it was any different from any other religion. Her story is not unique. According to Lifeway, 70% of Christian students walk away from church during their collegiate years.[1] While a minority of them return, they often return jaded from their experience and with a shallow faith.