Fellowship Church of Greenwood will be the host for the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board’s Replant Summit in August. The church provides a good example of what attendees hope to replicate elsewhere.
“The First Baptist Church of Greenwood has an incredible testimony,” said Mark Clifton, senior director of replant for the mission board. “The gospel witness of any church is far too important to allow it to fade when adversity comes.”
The 1990s had been a good decade for FBC Greenwood, which attained an average attendance of around 600 people before a church split in 1999 led into a troubled decade of decline. When attendance fell to below 100. In 2011, Lenexa Baptist Church came alongside FBC Greenwood.
“The recommendation was well-received at the time,” Chris Williams who pastors the congregation in Greenwood, told Baptist Press. “It was almost celebratory. They were ready to do just about anything, because they knew where they had come from.”
In 2018, the campus site again became an autonomous church under a new name — Fellowship Church. As its services began nearing capacity, members of the congregation realized they had a decision to make about whether to expand the facility. Rather than construct a bigger building, Fellowship Church began reaching out to sister churches in their community.
“We really believe that we can do our part to fulfill the Great Commission by partnering with some of the beleaguered churches in communities close by us and bringing them to life,” Williams said.
Fellowship Church has a vision of seeing a thriving church in every neighborhood. In May 2019, the First Baptist Church of Raymore, Mo., voted to become a campus of Fellowship Church after experiencing difficulty reaching out to its community.
“They were growing, before COVID,” said Williams. “They were averaging in the 160s before they became Fellowship Church, and I think our average after that was 260 or so. We grew by 100 in the first few months. We were seeing baptisms. The Lord is doing a great work there.”
Summit participants will be able to learn from church replanting practitioners about the value of and strategy behind replanting a declining church. This year will include a special focus on how churches can help sister churches.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice