Serve Blog — April 2023

Back to Life: The importance of healthy North American churches

BMM’s North America Administrator Steve Anderson is on a mission to bring vitality back to North America’s churches. He has detailed his passion and plan more in a past issue of Serve here.

When Steve accepted the pastorate of Faith Baptist Church in Fowler, Colorado, only 15 eligible church members were left to vote him in. A mere 20-25 attended on a typical Sunday, and Fowler’s tight-knit community was keenly aware of the church’s decline. Faith Baptist was still faithfully conducting the same ministries that worked well in the past, but the world had changed around them. Little by little, their community stopped responding.

That’s when Steve put a plan in action. He and his family purposely entered into the lives of Fowler residents. They attended high school sporting events even though their children didn’t play in them. They bought from local businesses as much as possible and attended Fowler’s weekly livestock auctions. Steve volunteered as a local fire department EMT, and the church gave back to the community by starting a Fourth of July concert.

Little by little, unsaved Fowler residents took notice. Steve’s personal contact softened them to the gospel and, year by year, people came to Christ. Toward the end of his tenure as pastor, Steve had a watershed moment when a woman working at the gas station asked him, “Does Gary attend your church now?” (Gary, a Fowler resident, had gotten saved and became a regularly attending member.) “Yes,” Steve answered. The woman shook her head in amazement and said, “I can tell you, I’ve known Gary a lot of years, and he is not the same person that he was a couple of years ago.”

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Steve Anderson is BMM's Administrator for North American Ministries.

The enormous need for revitalization

When Steve joined BMM’s administrative team in 2021, he brought with him a passion for North American churches. His experience in Fowler showed him firsthand the enormous need for revitalization efforts that bring struggling churches back to life—and how those efforts can transform communities.

Steve says, “Many churches find themselves evaluating their ministries and thinking, ‘This was part of a thriving ministry 25 years ago, so we’ve kept it going, but we’re not seeing the same fruit.’ ”

Steve believes that church health is not measured by maintaining ministry models. It’s measured by the efficacy of what individuals are doing through the church: Are they reaching their coworkers and neighbors? Are they engaged in evangelistic studies and involved in church leadership? A healthy church will have a broad leadership base.

Steve knows that hundreds of churches like Faith Baptist of Fowler can be helped if they have the right tools. He is making it his mission to equip full-time missionaries to revitalize churches and to put the right tools in the hands of pastors who want to breathe new life into their churches.

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Effective mission efforts arise from a healthy base.

One of the byproducts of church revitalization is the continuity of missions itself. “When you look at the church in western Europe,” says Steve, “it was once the foundation of global Christian ministry. Today it is one of the least evangelized places in the world, and it long ago lost its place as a strong missionary sender. As of now, North America remains the world’s top missionary sender, but it is quickly going the same direction as Europe.” Steve adds, “If we don’t give specific attention to revitalizing our churches, we’re acknowledging a looming disaster and surrendering to it. God is at liberty to shift the foundation of global ministry if He wants, but it shouldn’t be as a consequence of our disinterest to meet the challenges of the hour.”

Far from being disinterested, Steve is working to offer all that BMM can do to reverse that trend. He’s joined by Dr. Jason Ormiston, who now serves as BMM’s Director of Church Planting & Development for North America. Together it’s their goal to make BMM a trusted resource and partner for churches looking for help.

This month’s Serve is taken from the Spring 2023 edition of Advance Magazine which you can subscribe to receive electronically here.

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