Thrive: A Journey Toward Revitalization

There are many excellent resources for pastors and church leaders to help them become dynamic missionary and evangelistic leaders. However, according to Jim Denison, pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, “only 15 percent of the churches are growing and only one percent is growing by reaching the un-churched and nonbelievers.” A survey by the Georgia Baptist Convention claims that “90 percent of pastors said their seminary or Bible school training did only a fair job preparing them for the ministry; 85 percent said their greatest problem is they are sick and tired of dealing with problem people in the church; 70 percent do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor, and 70 percent said the only time they spend studying the Word of God is when they are preparing their sermons.”

Guidestone Financial Resources reports that Baptist pastors are a high insurance risk because they have a higher rate of high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, little exercise and few friends. Frank Page, leader of the Executive Committee of the SBC said when asked to identify the greatest threats to the Southern Baptist Convention, “the increasing numbers of declining and plateauing churches that manifest a desire to hold onto outdated methodologies and ministries.”

Putting all this together, churches and pastors in Baptist life are at risk. Often, I hear pastors admit they do not know how to grow a vibrant, Great Commission church that reproduces disciples for Jesus Christ. They ask: “Does anyone care and does anyone know how to help us become vibrant churches once again?” THRIVE addresses these above issues in the lives of the pastors and churches.


  • To lead pastors and churches to envision God’s future for them.
  • To lead pastors and churches to develop a strategy to become healthy, growing, evangelistic churches and implement it in the church and community.


  • This project will take 12 months
  • The current cycle of Thrive is from January – December, 2011.
  • We may be starting a new group in September, 2011, and definitely in January, 2012.


Pastors will be chosen by the Director of the Association. Pastors should be from churches who are:

  • Desiring to reach people for Christ
  • Willing to face critical issues confronting them
  • Willing to put the command of Jesus to reach and disciple people priority in their lives
  • Willing to allow the pastor to become its leader in developing a healthy, growing church
  • Willing to commit to a disciplined study program
  • Willing to commit to make this a priority in their lives


Pastors will commit to meet once a month. Monthly sessions will be led by Bob Lowman.  The curriculum will include material on spiritual disciplines, leadership, discipleship, disciple-making, context, worship, strategy planning, and implementation.


The goal for this project is that each church move from a membership that is plateaued or declining to one that is growing both spiritually and numerically. This will be demonstrated by baptisms, church attendance, assimilation, and members empowered to use their spiritual gifts – making disciples as Jesus commanded.

Each pastor will:

  • Select a team of church leaders (5-7) that will work with him.
  • Develop a set of core values, a mission statement, vision statement and a strategy plan to accomplish their mission in cooperation with the team of lay leaders.
  • Lead the church to complete two surveys (MAPChurch), one at the beginning and one at the end of this project, that will evaluate the effectiveness of this journey.
  • Learn how to:  practice spiritual disciplines, lead through change, manage conflict, empower church leaders, involve the church in gift-oriented ministry, develop functional structures, including disciple-making, lead inspiring worship that fits his church and community, evangelize a needs-based approach, serve on your mission field with effectiveness