A Competency Model for Church Revitalization in Southern Baptist Convention Churches: A Mixed Methods Study
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The need for revitalization in the modern American church is well documented. In the Southern Baptist Convention alone, 1,000 churches close their doors every year. Despite an increase in the overall number of churches in the SBC due to church planting, attendance and membership numbers continue to fall. The number of total baptisms is declining at an even greater pace than attendance and membership. These numbers suggest that church revitalization situations are not the exception in the United States; rather, they are the norm. This reality has led to a steady increase in church revitalization writing since the term was first used in a ministry context in 1976. However, much of the literature remains anecdotal and based on case studies. Furthermore, most revitalization literature is focused on methodologies or factors that lead to church revitalization. These studies consistently show that pastoral leadership is one of, if not the most important factor that leads to church revitalization. While some studies have looked at personality characteristics or leadership styles of church revitalizers, no study to date has generated a complete competency model for church revitalization. The purpose of this study was to create a competency model for church revitalization based on the knowledge, skills, and characteristics found in successful practitioners. This study used an exploratory sequential mixed method design consisting of both a set of qualitative interviews with successful church revitalizers as well as an empirical analysis of a Delphi panel of revitalization experts. The interview portion of the study found organizational awareness, team leadership, initiative, missional focus, gospel orientation, and a willingness to confront and exercise church discipline as frequent competencies demonstrated in critical incidents of church revitalization. The Delphic portion of the study yielded 129 distinct competencies that were rated for importance by a panel of experts.