Center for Church Revitalization to provide ‘virtual interim preaching and music’ for churches in need

Alex Sibley
| Apr 29, 2020

Helping congregations without pastors or worship leaders during a time when churches are unable to hold in-person meetings is the focus of a new resource launched by The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Center for Church Revitalization.

Many churches across the nation were in the midst of searching for pastors when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented congregations from gathering together on Sunday mornings. Thus, while many pastors have been able to reach their congregations through pre-recorded messages or live-streamed services, a great number of pastor-less church members have gone unreached during this season. Furthermore, some churches simply lack the personnel and tools necessary to offer their people online services.

Featuring contributions from President Adam W. Greenway, the School of Church Music and Worship, and various other faculty members, the Center for Church Revitalization is producing a new online resource, the Sermon and Worship Resource Collection, with sermon videos and packages of worship songs that will be available to churches who are unable to produce online services themselves. The combination of the sermon and worship videos available online will allow churches to offer their members full Sunday morning services.

“Southwestern Seminary exists to serve the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Greenway says. “During this time of heightened difficulties for our churches, which are compounded for churches without pastoral leadership, our Center for Church Revitalization is demonstrating in a practical way how our seminary serves the Body of Christ. I pray that this resource will be a blessing to many, helping these congregations to continue their calling to advance the Gospel, which is especially needed during these days.”

Kenneth Priest, interim director of the Center for Church Revitalization, says he is excited about “the potential this offers as a direct resource to assist the church in the midst of this COVID-19 issue.”

“These are different times requiring different ministry needs,” he says, “and I believe Southwestern Seminary can offer the solution through the Center for Church Revitalization and the involvement and engagement of our professors across the disciplines.”

Priest summarizes, “We are simply trying to provide some resources so that a pastor or a church can log onto our site, download a couple of videos for music, download a sermon video, put a service together, and then stream it all together as their online worship experience on Sunday morning.”

In addition to Greenway and Priest, several professors are producing multi-part sermon series, including Associate Professor of Evangelism Matt Queen; Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry Deron Biles; and Professor of Preaching Matthew McKellar. In this way, these professors will serve as “virtual interims” for churches, Priest says.

Joseph R. Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship, is “drawing from the bank of worship songs and hymns from chapel services” to provide worship sets for congregations. Crider will also record transition statements for use between songs in order to provide “a seamless worship service,” Crider says.

The School of Church Music and Worship has already been providing resources for family worship through its Artistic Theologian website (see here), but Crider says this new effort is specifically for churches who are “really needing some help on a weekly basis with providing some quality worship and preaching.”

“So, through our Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern Seminary,” Crider says, “we are developing some packages of worship resources that will give these churches options for them to be able to use not only for their own congregations, but also for outreach into their communities.”

Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism, says this “innovative and creative solution” to assist churches with “virtual interim preaching and music” provides these churches “a venue for their congregants to hear the very same sermon and sing the very same songs that their brothers and sisters in Christ will be hearing and singing on any given Sunday.”