FIRST-PERSON: Transforming the church for the glory of God
TAYLORS, S.C. (BP)--Since God called me to be a pastor, I have attempted to bring the churches which He has allowed me to serve from a position of status quo to a place where our people are learning with ever-increasing passion to reach out to the lost, minister to the saved, and make a difference in our culture.
Obviously, every church has areas where progress needs to be made. That certainly includes the church God has allowed me to serve for these past five-plus years. However, we have made some strides. Many are asking, "What do we do to try to reach the lost, to minister to the saved and to make a difference in our culture?"
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the things that God has allowed our church to do to make a difference for Him.
One of the things we are doing is starting a new church plant or mission work each year. Our church had not started one single new church since its inception in 1864, and we have asked the Lord to forgive us for that. While our church heavily invested in missions through the Cooperative Program and special missions offerings, our church was not heavily involved in “hands on” mission work. God has been receiving great glory as we have begun to reach out in exciting new ways. Shortly after my arrival, we began an apartment ministry which continues to this day. Apartment dwellers or multi-family housing dwellers form the greatest unreached people group in the United States of America. I hope that you seriously would consider starting an apartment church or mission in the many apartment complexes or multi-family housing units surrounding your area.
After starting our apartment ministry, we constituted the first Korean Baptist church of Greenville, S.C. While this church was already in existence, we assisted in reaching the point where the church's members were able to purchase their own facilities and become a constituted, Southern Baptist church. Then, we began a more traditional-type mission, called "Ridgeview Church." That wonderful body of believers meets in an area school and is now approaching an average of 200 persons each Sunday. In June of this year, we constituted that new body of believers as an autonomous, Southern Baptist church. They give 8 percent of their income to the Cooperative Program and an additional 1 percent goes to church planting efforts as well as other gifts to the association and other mission entities. We also planted the Betania Iglesia Bautista, a church to reach out to our ever-growing Hispanic population. This wonderful church, which is averaging 50 people each service, has just called a new pastor, Dr. Jose Delgado.
This year, we are starting a new congregation called "Bridgepointe Church." We were approached by a church that was ready to close its doors. We have been able to utilize the facilities from that church to start a brand-new work in an area in great need of a New Testament body of believers. Please pray that this new work will prosper and bring glory to God.
As you can tell, I believe in church planting. Our area, Taylors, S.C., is one of the most heavily churched areas in the United States. However, as I have said multiple times, we need more healthy churches, and not just churches. New churches have a great record of winning more people to Christ than churches which are older and more established. Let us encourage the beginning of healthy, new congregations in great areas of need.
Ministry is also a part of our strategy. One of the great ministries we began more than five years ago is a single mom’s oil change. It has grown into a massive outreach as these ladies bring their cars to be repaired. While here, our people share the love of Christ with them and their families. The children are ministered to as well. At certain times of the year we also offer free Christmas gifts and back to school supplies. Food is provided and a warm place to wait while the cars are being repaired. We now average more than 100 families each quarter.
Yet another ministry and evangelistic outreach is a free medical clinic. This ministry, begun more than a year ago, reaches out every week to a large number of uninsured and underinsured persons in our area. It has become a true way to show the love of God in a practical way. Christ is shared, prayer is offered, and true, wonderful medical help is provided. This is a free-standing facility and ministry that has truly done an exceptional job of ministering to people and reaching the lost for Christ. In fact, several members of our new Hispanic church are direct results of the evangelistic outreach of our Free medical clinic.
As stated earlier, we are attempting to transform the church into an outreach-oriented, ministry-focused, mission-minded congregation. Please join me as we pray that God would show us even more ways that we might reach our area for Christ.
Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing even more ideas about how to win the lost to Christ. Our former president, Dr. Bobby Welch, did a wonderful job of pointing out the need. We now are going to continue finding ways to see how to accomplish this God-sized task.
Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. Visit his website at www.sbc.net/PresidentsPage.