Updated: May 23
Twelve churches in the Southern New England Conference (SNEC) just completed the third of five modules of Church Revitalization Residency, a discipling and support system created and led by Alex Palmeira, SNEC’s church planting and church revitalization director.
Statistics from 2022 indicate that 61% of Adventist churches in the North American Division (NAD) are in decline (losing members) and another 11% are at a plateau (not growing). “Church revitalization is a movement that is looking to bring back a mentality of reproduction,” explained Palmeira. “Our conference wants to see every single member in the mission of making disciples, reproducing leaders, and planting more churches—new churches with this mentality.”
“My dream is to see at least 50 congregations revitalized by 2026,” said Palmeira. “This means that at least 50 churches will be ready to think about multiplying themselves. For that [to happen], we need to invest in the leaders now, organize the function of the church, bring back the Adventist missionary vision, and encourage spiritual practices in the lives of the members.”
“This does not happen without dependence on the Holy Spirit or prayer. The strategy can be really nice, but if we are not dependent on the Holy Spirit and prayer, this will be just a project,” Palmeira continued.
The first module of the Church Revitalization Residency started February 18, 2023 with 45 participants. Pastors encouraged more of their leaders to attend, and 80 attended the second module on March 25. Attendance was down to 65 at the third module on May 13. But participants reported changes at their churches, starting with prayer.
“Now we have 98% of our church praying together,” said Phil Byron, from the Middletown-Portland, CT church. “It’s exciting to see what the Holy Spirit will do!”
“This has restarted our prayer ministry before Sabbath school,” reported Johanna Viteri from the Renacer Spanish church in Fitchburg, MA. “This came directly from [what] we learned here.”
Currently Palmeira is visiting churches’ board meetings to coach them through the challenging process of change. He intends to meet twice with each of the 12 church boards before the next module, scheduled for August 19.
“This mission cannot fail because God is promising to deliver the results,” said Robert Sierra, pastor of the Taunton and Foxboro, MA churches. “Let’s pray like never before!”
Pastors and local church leaders worked together to assess their churches and make plans to implement what they are learning.