Declining Churches Renewed Through Revitalizing, Fostering, and Replanting

Declining Churches Renewed Through Revitalizing, Fostering, and Replanting

By Stephanie Heading, managing editor

In 2017, Summit Baptist Church, Pataskala, was a church in decline. 

The congregation had been without a pastor for over a year due to difficult circumstances and the congregation dwindled to 15 people. The building was outdated, and the church wasn’t active in outreach to its community. 

Pastor Mark Glenn accepted God’s call to serve as Summit’s senior pastor in late 2017 and started at the church in early 2018. 

After Glenn’s arrival, the church recognized its need as a declining church and entered a time of revitalization. Now six years later Summit BC has seen its ministry renewed and its congregation increase to 75-90 people in attendance. “God has really grown this ministry,” he said.

God has really grown this ministry

However, the church and its pastor were not content to celebrate their victories and leave other declining churches behind.

One of those churches was First Southern Baptist of Johnstown, a church that Glenn was familiar with. “I drove by it every time I went from Mount Vernon to Johnstown.”

The church was struggling without a pastor and it reminded Glenn of Summit before its revitalization. “Their situation was like ours was. The congregation was down to 10-15 members. They had lost their way. It was identical to what we were.”

He contacted Steve Hopkins, SCBO convention relations. “I told Steve that if we can be a blessing to them, please let them know.” Hopkins brought Mark Jones, SCBO revitalization consultant, into the conversation and the path to a church foster relationship began between Summit and FSB Johnstown.

“Church Foster Care is a time-bound strategic partnership between a stronger church and a struggling church,” said Jones. “The struggling church receives and accepts coaching, care, wisdom, and resources aimed at returning the struggling church to vitality and full autonomy. Church Foster Care happens through a revitalization process or if the struggling church desires, through replanting.”

Building a relationship between the two churches was the first and most important step leading to a foster agreement. “Leaders at our church reached out to FSB Johnstown,” said Glenn. “They became an extension of our church.” In June 2023, FSB Johnstown voted to enter a foster relationship with Summit. 

As part of foster care, Summit leaders filled the pulpit at Johnstown and performed pastoral duties such as preaching funerals. Summit also supplied an interim pastor. The two churches met together occasionally for services and got to know each other. 

“We also gave them our word that we would help them find the right guy as their pastor,” said Pastor Rob Kane. He began screening resumes and doing interviews with potential candidates for the position and narrowed the field to five candidates. 

When the pastor search process ended, Sam Romine, current youth and college pastor, Lifepoint Mount Vernon, accepted the call to serve as the new pastor of FSB Johnstown. “The Lord is going to use Sam to hit a homerun,” said Glenn. 

In addition to finding a pastor, FSB Johnstown also voted to replant the church. “They were aware that they were a dying church,” said Glenn. “The desire to do a replant was a huge decision.”

When Romine starts his duties as senior pastor in summer 2024,  FSB Johnstown will become “Redemption Church,” and Summit will still be supporting the replant. Glenn will be part of an advisory committee designed to help steer the new church.

It’s evidence of God at work.

This was the first fostering experience for Summit, and Glenn feels blessed to be a part of it. “I have been so encouraged by how much support the folks there have given. It’s evidence of God at work. In the relationship between our two churches there has been time, resources and sacrifices made,” said Glenn. “It’s a great testimony of the Lord at work.”

In addition to fostering FSB Johnstown, the church has also faithfully responded to the need for new church plants in central Ohio, sending one of its own, Pastor Rob Kane, to plant Citizens Church in Westerville during the Covid 19 pandemic. Citizens Church is currently a thriving church with a congregation of 125 plus.

In January 2024, Summit also launched New Creation Church, a Nepali mission, which meets at Summit on Sunday afternoons. New Creation Church is reaching out to the large Nepali population that has settled in the Pataskala area. Abraham Diyali is the pastor.

Mark Glenn, pastor, Summit Baptist Church, Pataskala