Oklahoma City, OK: Wilmont Place Baptist Church passed a formal revitalization strategy on December 29, 2019 during a regularly called business meeting. The strategy was a result of two years of prayer and planning as their Future Plans Committee involved the congregation in a process of discovery, communication, and prayer. Wilmont was trained in the Oklahoma Baptists' transition pastor plan at which time they adapted the strategy for a church recovering from years of decline.
Wilmont's growth peaked in 2002 with an average of 575 in worship and 45 baptisms after moving several years earlier to their current location. That growth dwindled to an average of 150 in 2018 shortly after the church recognized the need for revitalization. Wilmont's new pastor, Shawn Nichols hired in 2017, came to Wilmont with a burden to revitalize a south-side Oklahoma ministry. Nichols said, "Revitalization was difficult for the church to embrace because the decline was so gradual. Most did not recognize the need to upset many traditions. The numbers, however, spoke for themselves. Educating the church as to our existing reality was the first step toward healthy recovery." The early years of revitalization have not been easy but the church has benefited. "Revitalization begins as soon as you start the process," Nichols added. "It's not like you plan and then revitalization occurs. The planning process itself has unified those who really love their church and defined our collective future. While we pray for numbers to improve, we are already rejoicing in the community God is building at Wilmont."
The church claims that their strategy does not contain any plans that are groundbreaking. For them, it is a return to prioritizing New Testament instructions for church character and function. The plan prioritizes discipleship and evangelism. Wilmont's discipleship pathway, The Journey, provides a plan for every member to envision further spiritual growth. Wilmont defines evangelism as, "intentionally sharing the gospel to conclude with inviting all people to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior." The church's evangelism strategy involves engaging in the communities around the church through neighborhood participation, community-minded ministries, and partnering with existing community ministries.
The need for revitalization is not unique with Wilmont. Lifeway Research reports that six in ten Protestant churches have plateaued or are in decline. This is not a new problem. The Southern Baptist Convention has known for a while that church planting statistics are the only numbers on the rise. Many existing churches have wrestled with declining numbers. Nichols concludes, "A strategic plan without the anointing of God remains useless. However, our revitalization strategy is our way of seeking the presence of God as we plan to obey Him in living as a healthy New Testament congregation."
About Wilmont Place Baptist Church: Wilmont Place Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist church of 150 active members on the south side of Oklahoma City. Text-driven expository preaching, Bible-teaching, personal growth, and community evangelism define the culture and direct the activities and events of the congregation. The church is working through a formal revitalization strategy in which members become family and the community becomes ministry.
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Wilmont Place Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist church of 150 active members on the south side of Oklahoma City. Text-driven expository preaching, Bible-teaching, personal growth, and community evangelism define the culture and direct the activities and events of the congregation. The church is working through a formal revitalization strategy in which members become family and the community becomes ministry.