March 5, 2015, 4:00 PM

Church Revitalization -- Elevate Summit

By Mike Carlisle, Director of Missions

One of the remarkable aspects of the church is the ability to re-envision itself to serve.  Churches, like individuals, can get stuck in their past ways of serving and living. I think of the way I grew up, where most every Baptist Church I attended was pretty much the same. For the most part, we sang the Doxology to begin the service. We wore our "best" clothes to church as a sign of respect. We sang the same songs out of our Baptist Hymnals and followed very similar orders of worship. There was not a lot of diversity in our communities and most everyone felt comfortable with the culture. Occasionally, we would have revival meetings to fire up the congregation and rededicate ourselves to live for God more faithfully. But things have changed! Our communities are more diverse, our culture has dramatically changed, our communication systems have expanded with television, movies, and especially the internet. Google, has enabled people to search for information that in the past required a trip to the library. Other things have also changed, our economy, travel, education, and more.

For many people, including myself, change is a difficult process. Especially when a pattern has been established that is comfortable. After all, people join churches based on the style, format, and sense of community. When the style, format, and community changes, then a reaction is predictable. Often the reaction includes anger, fear, even blame -- Why change? A great question. The best answer is related to the purpose of the church. If the church has plateaued or is in decline, then one must ask, "If God wants us to reach people, what will it take?" Where do we need to change and how do we lead that process?

In our San Diego Association of Churches, for the last eighteen months, we had a group of pastors that willingly entered a covenant with one another to pray and seek God to revitalize their church. We met together every month to study, pray, and learn how to bring the kind of changes that would make a difference. It has been a very good experience. In fact, here are a few takeaways from our meetings.

  • Every Church is unique and requires a clear understanding of it's past history and needs a specific plan for the future.
  • It is vital to know the number of attendees that represents "critical mass" -- in other words a meeting large enough where visitors can attend and not feel vulnerable.
  • It is more important to have a clear vision for the future than just examine the problems of the present and the past.
  • Churches can be led to see a new picture of the future with a new clear purpose, vision, and values.
  • Plateaued churches are growing churches. A church must grow about 10% per year just to make up for those who relocate and go to other churches.
  • There are several categories of churches that are stuck - often with pathologies.
    • Ageing Leadership. Churches where pastors are close to retirement and need a retirement strategy to end-well and a congregational succession plan for the future.
    • Capacity Issues. Churches where there is need for an ongoing leadership development system.
    • Cancer. Churches where there might be  a person or persons that are hindering growth.
    • Competency. Often, cultural change in the community requires competency change in the church leadership. For example, when a suburban community  becomes urban. Also new skills needed to train people with ministry tasks rather than use people for ministry tasks.
    • Blindness. This is when the church leadership doesn't really know the pains and needs of the community.
    • Detachment. Where the vision is inwardly focused to the exclusion of touching those outside the church.
    • Apathy. Where the church has lost its sense of taking the hill and planting the flag for the Kingdom.
    • Growth Restrictions. This is where the parking lot, or meeting room is at capacity and incapable of sustaining growth. Like a root bound plant in a small pot.

Good news – there is a prescription with remedies for each of these pathologies. They can be fixed, and a new future direction can be put in place to change the growth trajectory and health of the church. In most cases, this can happen with the existing leadership. It all depends upon the commitment and desire of the church leadership, essentially the Pastor. So where do we go from here?

March 23rd, SDSBA is hosting an all day Elevate Summit that will feature several nationally known leaders who will speak about church health, growth, leadership, and community impact. The Elevate Summit is for everyone. Pastors, leaders, and believers. You are encouraged to bring as many people as you can from your church. Invite other pastors from other churches.

Pastors and their key leaders will be invited to enter a covenant with other pastors and leaders to meet one day per month for one year to focus on their church and ministry. Click here for the Covenant.

Each month those who are part of the Elevate Cluster will have the opportunity to be coached by some of the best ministry coaches in America. The format will include lunch at no cost. If you are interested in being part of this tremendous learning opportunity then please download the Elevate Covenant form and email to

For more detailed information about the Elevate Clusters please click here.

Content in this blog is the exclusive property of San Diego Southern Baptist Association and can only be re-purposed or used by permission.

San Diego Southern Baptist Association
(619) 275-2550


March 4, 2015, 1:00 PM

Partnership with FBC Bossier City, Louisiana

By Mike Carlisle, Director of Missions (DOM)

God is Amazing!

Partnerships are a gift that can change a city. When the good people of God work together, so much more can be accomplished. For years now, one of my prayers has been, "Lord, show us how to transform San Diego County, both societal and spiritual transformation."  The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has taken the first step to help bring transformation by creating an initiative called SEND CITIES. NAMB has identified 32 cities in the USA  that accounts for 85% of America’s population. San Diego is the second largest city in California, and the 8th largest city in the USA.

First Baptist Bossier is our Lead “Send City” Church for San Diego. In the next five years we will work together with Pastor Brad Jurkovich, and his leadership team, Executive Pastor, Jerry Pipes and Pastor of Missions and Evangelism, Robbie Gatti (pictured), to reach one of the most unreached areas of America. Only 8% of San Diego is evangelical. Although we have 200 SBC Churches in our Association, many of them are new and meeting in rented facilities. Many others are struggling to compete with a warm semi tropical climate and an area of the country where recreation seems to be the god most served.

FBB's Pastor of Missions and Evangelism, Robbie Gatti, will be working directly with me and Judy to coordinate projects, teams, special events, vision tours, and much more. We will work together to prepare people who come to serve in San Diego as well as the churches in San Diego with whom they will be working. What does this mean?

  • Well Planned Block Parties for churches to reach their neighborhoods
  • Vision Tours to invite other churches to "Come and See" how they could also partner with San Diego Churches
  • New Church Planting training and support
  • Back Yard Bible Clubs
  • Sports Camp Training

San Diego needs FBB to use its influence to invite other strong churches to join us and win the West for Christ.

Southern California is a beautiful area. Many who have visited see only the palm trees and beaches. But those who serve the Lord in this area see so much more. Most families require two wage earners as it is the most expensive place to live in America relative to income levels. Average homes often exceeds a half million dollars or more.

I welcome FBB to your new San Diego family and promise that we will make you feel at home.  We also extend this same invitation to other churches. If you are able to come and serve in any capacity here in San Diego, please contact us. The Apostle Paul heard a call from God to come to Macedonia (Acts 16:9) and help those who lived in that area – I feel like this is what God is doing now in San Diego! Welcome to San Diego.

San Diego Southern Baptist Association
(619) 275.2550


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