Revitalizing a dying Church is as much mission as Planting a new Church...
This is the premise from which Dr Harry Reeder argues in his challenging From Embers to a FlameConference on Church Vitality. When he was called to Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1999 he set it as a goal that this actively involved mission-minded church also turn its attention to that part of the church that is on the decline and needs revitalization. Over more than a decade he and his team have faithfully called leaders to renewed spiritual commitment and refocused strategic leadership in order to see local churches return to a level of church vitality that again makes them an instrument of grace in its societies. Reeder says: We are learning the hard way that church health must precede church growth. Only healthy churches manifest well-balanced, long-term and scriptural growth. Church health is based upon God's precepts, principles and patterns in the New Testament.
In South Africa many denominations are grappling with the issue of church decline. Here is an opportunity to have the Embers precept brought to the table for open reflection and challenge. Dr Reeder has taken Embers to cities all over the US as well as numerous countries in South America, Australasia, Europe and Africa. His second visit to South Africa will see him and his team share and coach in Johannesburg this May (8-10 May).
Prof. Jurgens Hendriks and Dr. Peter Atoyebi will facilitate the plenary response and the application to the South African and African context at both evening sessions. Prof. Hendriks is emeritus professor in Practical Theology and Missiology at Stellenbosch University and founding member of NetACT (Network for African Congregational Theology). He serves as the networks Executive Director. Dr. Atoyebi teaches Urban Missions and Church Growth at the West Africa Theological Seminary, Lagos, Nigeria. A former university don in Economics, he had served for 25 years as a missionary-pastor around Africa and the Indian Ocean and still teaches part-time at the Missions Department of Africa International University (AIU), Nairobi. He was educated in Nigeria at the Universities of Ife and Ibadan and in Kenya at the AIU before moving to North-West University,South Africa where he obtained his PhD in Missiology.
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