RENOVATE mentor church leader tells story
Jan 1, 2014
Special to Florida Baptist Witness

LEADER Tom Cheyney (left) executive director of missions for the Greater Orlando Baptist Association and the founder of the RENOVATE National Church Revitalization Conference, speaks with a participant in Winter Park. Photo courtesy GOBA
WINTER PARK (FBW)—An outgrowth of the RENOVATE Conference is a link between leaders who are making revitalization possible within a network of churches.

Ron Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs, is one such leader. As a keynote speaker during Renovate, he serves as co-leader with Tom Cheyney of the Church Revitalization Assistance Team (CRAT) at the Greater Orlando Baptist Association, and was on the conference steering committee. Cheyney is GOBA’s director of missions.

Smith is a firm believer in the importance of church rescue and revitalization. 

“We needed a Renovate Conference at this time to supply hurting churches and leaders with the knowledge and support they need to succeed,” Smith said. He regularly mentors the pastors of 12 churches in need of revitalization through the peer-mentoring group of the CRAT in the local association.

The mentoring group, Smith said, provides a “no-nonsense approach” to partnering with pastors in churches in need of revitalization and providing the resources needed for them to succeed. 

It works because “it is not about logos and egos. It is very real and very resourceful to those pastors and churches in need of revitalization,” Smith said.

Rod Shaddeau, one of the members of First Baptist Church of Altamonte Springs who was impacted by Smith’s vision is now a strong supporter of the movement for revitalization of churches. Shaddeau, now in his early forties, served in the U.S. Air Force and is currently “blessed with a good job in the corporate world.”

Called to the ministry about 20 years ago, he enrolled in the Masters of Ministry program at Anderson University to prepare for ministry. Meanwhile he served by “teach[ing] people the Bible at his local church.”

Today, Shaddeau is preparing in the area of church revitalization so that he can lead in the near future a troubled congregation to a place of renewal. 

“The concept of revitalization has become a new term for revival. Revitalization is really a call to basics. Sometimes we complicate church. We stop doing vital things due to a faulty sense of tradition,” Shaddeau said.  

At RENOVATE, Shaddeau said “the big take-away” was learning how to be a “minister” to his own pastors.

“I leave this conference with the challenge to be an example in my church of those members who support the pastor. We need to consider what our pastors are giving up for their ministry and support them,” Shaddeau said.

Another person who has been influenced by Smith and experienced the support of First Baptist Altamonte Springs was Bill Timmons. He has been the pastor of Dover Shores Baptist Church in Orlando for the last 16 months.  

“Dover Shores has been a church in need of revitalization for about 15 years,” Timmons said.

Timmons is one of the 12 disciples of Smith and Cheyney at the GOBA CRAT. He credits the peer learning group with part of his current success in changing the direction of the church he serves. 

“The group taught me patience in changing. You have to build the foundation for change,” Timmons said he learned. “You have to create the climate for change and then stand your ground.”

Timmons sees the value of the RENOVATE Conference as “a tool for identifying techniques and to raise consciousness for my people to change methodologies and focus.” He brought eight members of Dover Shores Baptist to the conference where they served as volunteer helpers and participants. Timmons said the emphasis on revitalization “has been validated in the minds of our people.”

The process at Dover Shores began about six months ago, said Timmons who believes it has altered his ministry “forever” and has led to the emergence of a revitalization team that is gaining momentum.

“One of the main functions of the team is to keep everyone on the same page,” he said.

Smith, his team of staff, and First Baptist Altamonte Springs, are examples of the process of revitalization at work in the church. Beyond helping support leaders like Rod Shaddeau and Bill Timmons, the church maintains an active missional ministry in many areas of service. The next target for   Altamonte Springs, according to Smith, is to start a ministry to Hispanics.


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