FLUSHING, Mich. (BP)--By most standards, Westside Baptist Church in Flushing, Mich., was a church that didn't need a lot of help. They were running about 250 in worship and baptizing two dozen people a year -- mostly adults. Their receipts totaled around $300,000 and they were investing more than 11 percent in missions.
"Our church doesn't fall under the old 80/20 rule. We have more than 20 percent of the people carrying the load here," said pastor Ed Emmerling, who grew up in Westside and has served as its pastor since 2002. "But we still need to expand our vision."
Located about 10 miles outside Flint, Westside's community has been hard hit by the country's contracting economy, Emmerling said.
"The whole country is struggling now, but our area has been struggling for two or three years, in financial ways at least," the pastor said. "So it is an area where a lot of people really don't have much hope, other than getting out of here."
With so many challenges in the community, Westside needed a fresh vision of God doing something through the congregation even beyond what He already was doing. They found that vision, Emmerling said, in "Eternal Impact," the newest component of the Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis in the Southern Baptist Convention. The church worked through the study this past fall, beginning in September and wrapping it up in mid-December.
"Eternal Impact has caused our people to begin to look outside themselves and bigger than themselves for what God may want to do with them or involve them in, bigger than they ever dreamed," Emmerling said.
A surge in evangelism has been one result of the study, Emmerling reported. Two women came to Christ, and new believers have brought other family members to church. Read More