CU hears about the transformational church

CU hears about the transformational church

Oct. 5, 2012
For Immediate Release

The Rev. Rusty Ellison, pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., teaches a breakout session during the Transformational Church Summit held on Campbellsville University’s campus Sept. 27 and 28. (Campbellsville University Photo by Ye Wei “Vicky”)

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. -- Campbellsville University President Michael V. Carter welcomed
participants to Ransdell Chapel Sept. 27 for the opening session of the Transformational Church Summit. In a brief update, he said that part of the mission of university is to empower the local church.

The Transformational Church Summit, sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources and the Kentucky Baptist Convention, was held Sept. 27 and 28 when 250 persons attended from across the United States.

Dr. Thom Rainer, president and chief executive officer of LifeWay Christian Resources, was the guest speaker for the opening session.

Rainer said, “I was going to be one of the best Christian witnesses in the business world. There’d never been a vocational minister in the family so I couldn’t understand why God was calling a Rainer -- there were lots of better speakers, preachers, teachers.

 Dr. Thom Rainer, president of CEO of LifeWay
Christian Resources, told church leaders to
encourage their members to read the Bible daily
and get involved in small groups to begin a
transformation in your local church. (Campbellsville
University Photo by Christina L. Kern)

“Then I discovered God was not interested in my resume, but in my obedience.”

“I love pastors, they give their hearts and works to the community,” he said. “They start building the house of God and something happens ­ a little criticism here, some division there, and after a while the pastor starts to wonder, ‘Can I keep on going? Is it worth it?’

“No matter what phase of life you are in, God is not done with you yet. God wants to use you as a transformational partner.”

He told the church leaders and students, “Go into the world of lostness and begin the journey of rebuilding the house of God.”

“How? That’s the question with which we begin the next session.”

In the second general session of the Transformational Church Summit, Rainer answered how we can begin to rebuild the house of God.

Rainer said church members who read the Bible daily share their faith more, spend more time in prayer, give more, and walk with Christ in the spirit of humility more. “If I could go back, I would create accountability in the church by getting church members in the Word more,” Rainer said.

“Couples in the Word together have healthier relationships. Small groups meeting outside Sunday school classes have healthier Sunday school groups,” Rainer said.

In the Southern Baptist denomination, there are 16.5 million people on the roles; seven million are attending worship services regularly; and less are in Sunday school and other small group Bible studies.

 Dr. John Mark Toby, left, pastor of Beacon Hill
Baptist Church in Somerset, Ky., and Dr. Dan
Garland, director of Pastoral Ministries and Church
Consulting, LifeWay Christian Resources, discuss
the transformational church during a general session
at CU's Transformational Church Summit.
(Campbellsville University Photo by Joan C. McKinney)

Rainer said if you split a church in two and looked at groups five years later, 83 percent of one group would still be active in church, but only 16 percent of the second group would be active.

“The only difference is the first group got involved in small groups while the others were in worship services only,” Rainer said.

“As a church leader, I would encourage everyone to be in the Word of God daily and move people to Sunday school or other small groups. This is how transformational discipleship in small communities will take place.”

Dr. Shane Garrison, assistant professor of educational ministries, moderated the last session of the summit when Dr. Dan Garland, director of Pastoral Ministries and Church Consulting, LifeWay Christian Resources, and Dr. John Mark Toby, pastor of Beacon Hill Baptist Church in Somerset, Ky., discussed the advantages and challenges of working with a transformational church.

One of the aspects of Toby’s church was that they had 67 ministry teams. “They had too much going on,” Garland said. But, following consultation from LifeWay, they decided to focus on fewer things.

“We focused on discipleship and Bible study,” Toby said. “Christ calls us to be disciples,” he said.

Toby quoted Matthew 28:18 quoting Jesus who said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Toby told the audience teaching and preaching the Word is how to make disciples.

“Everybody is a disciple of someone but not all are transformed,” he said.

He said following Jesus is the call and path for transformation from good people to servants. “People want a free ticket to discipleship, but following Him is the way,” he said. “To make disciples, we have to be one. There aren’t that many red-hot Christians on fire for the Lord.”

Toby’s choir from Beacon Hill Baptist Church sang several songs during the session.

The Rev. Alan Witham, a 1984 graduate of Campbellsville University who is pastoral ministry counseling group leader/central region consultant with the church consulting and revitalization team with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, praised the partnership with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, LifeWay and Campbellsville University.

He said his church team is ready to help any church. “It is my prayer that our churches experience revitalization and not plateau and decline,” Witham said. “We are being renewed by the spirit of God.”

The Rev. Rusty Ellison, pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., closed out the Campbellsville University Transformational Church Summit by speaking at the fourth and final general session on Sept. 28.

Ellison opened the session by quoting a verse from Matt Redman’s song “10,000 reasons” -- “And on that day when my strength is failing. The end draws near and my time has come. Still my soul will sing your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forevermore.”

He asked, “When our strength is failing and we can perceive no hope will we praise his name?”

Ellison referred to John 12:24-25, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Ellison said anyone acting in service to God can expect opposition. He said, “When you begin to lead the way God wants you to lead, you better expect to face opposition. Often times it can even come from the ones you love dearly.”

But he said, “The transformational church must be led by a transformational leader who loves and believes God enough to give his life to the cause.”

You may have to lead people who don’t want to be led, he said.

Ellison said, “Many of our churches today don’t see what they are missing. God isn’t done with the local church today.” He acknowledged the church is in need of transformational leadership.

“Courageous leadership is what we need, but the hand of God is upon you so that He can work through you. Have the courage to obey.”

The event also consisted of breakout sessions with the Rev. Charles Grant Jr., church partner of Urban and Black Church Partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources; Ellison; Toby; Garrison and Garland.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is
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