The Mathena Center began in the Summer of 2014 after being endowed by Harold and Patricia Mathena of Oklahoma City, OK. Harold was introduced to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary through his son, John (who served as a member of the Board of Trustees, 2002-2012) “I wanted to support the ministry [at Southern] and this was an opportunity to do that,” Mathena said.
While he ministered throughout his life, without formal theological education, he was “impressed” with what he experienced while visiting the campus and seeing the “young people that had been trained” at Southern.
“We all know there’s a great need in Southern Baptist life for revival,” he said concerning his gift to support church revitalization efforts at Southern. “In every church you go to, there’s a need for spiritual awakening. … We need to do everything we can to train and project young people into society and into our culture to make a difference.”
During the annual report to the Southern Baptist Convention, June 11, 2014, R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, announced the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization as an initiative to train pastors in reviving declining and dying churches.
These steps then culminated in the visible “beginning” when Senior Fellow Brian Croft preached on the topic of Should I plant or Revitalize? at Southern Seminary on February 24, 2015 You can find that video here. The first year of the internship then began in the Fall of 2015.
Since its inaugural internship class in 2015, the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization has trained over 40 men, many of whom are currently serving in pastoral ministry throughout North America: from Washington state to South Carolina, Arizona to Tennessee. We are privileged to train men in the biblical form of church revitalization, and are humbled at how God has used the center to bring glory to him through the health of local churches all across North America.
We hope to lead the effort to train and equip men desiring to pastor in churches needing biblical revitalization and have been at the forefront of this needed movement among the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
The Mathena Center serves the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by providing pastoral resources and training to help in recovering and revitalizing the most at-risk churches in the convention.
The Center accomplishes its mission by training students for revitalization, mentoring pastors doing revitalization, and counseling churches needing revitalization.