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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Growing A Church With Love - Rose Sims

Rose Sims tells some of her experiences revitalizing small, country churches.

It's a thrilling story of how she and her husband (until his death) spent their ministry revitalizing churches that denominational officials were about to close as "dead".

I found a copy of her book (used - they all seem out of print) called "The Dream Lives On" at Amazon and hopefully it will be here soon.

You really need to read the whole article if you're interested in revitalizing small churches. For a taste though, I'll share the story of her latest church revitalization project - Trilby (Florida) United Methodist Church.

I became the pastor of Trilby United Methodist Church. Six years later, those eight in attendance had grown to 350 members with debt-free buildings and a ministry that the Board of Global Ministries evaluated at a replacement cost of nearly a million dollars. Best of all, those buildings had been built and paid for without a fundraiser or a single negative vote. Jesus had been lifted up, and broken lives were mended. The Trilby Mission was packed with the African Americans, Anglos, and Hispanics who came for food, clothes, and our clinic. Our programs became wide-open doors and windows leading many of them to accept Christ. Teenagers and children who had accepted Christ shared their testimonies in a drama group week after week, leading many in attendance to Christ. A petition to the county brought a free health clinic and park. Singles, drama groups, country gospel nights, adult education, literacy programs, AA, a dinner theater group, etc., opened windows of opportunity. I performed 20 weddings for couples from our singles group. After they found Christ, they found new beginnings.
What was her method? Perhaps this paragraph sums it up best:

We programmed to the purpose, budgeted to the purpose, trained to the purpose, and evaluated by the purpose. Of each program we asked, "Is it winning the lost and growing disciples, or are we only doing what some good atheist is probably already doing better?" It was hard work but as one of the local saints remarked, "If we want this church to grow, we shouldn't itch for anything we aren't willing to scratch for." It meant getting involved to the point of inconvenience.