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Church taps LifeWay curriculum for discipleship emphasis

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Good things are bound to happen when a church’s Sunday School lessons, daily devotional readings and the pastor’s sermons are complementary.

For First Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn., it meant a 14 percent growth rate over the first month of its “Eight Weeks of Purpose” campaign. Seventeen new Sunday School classes were started, and the study connected church members with church staff, allowing the entire church to share a purpose.

It all started when Steve Griffith, associate pastor of growth and discipleship, went to pastor Roger Freeman and asked if the church could launch a study focusing on basic discipleship. Freeman agreed, and using the Explore the Bible Sunday School curriculum series, the church staff developed a program for “Eight Weeks of Purpose.” The curriculum is published by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“We really sensed the need to have more of a spiritual emphasis,” Griffith said. “It was about believing that if we moved our folks in one direction we might see them connect with the church more. It was about believing that if we put them in touch with God on a regular basis, attendance would go up.”

Each member of the education staff wrote a week’s worth of devotions, and Freeman’s sermons reflected the material covered during the daily quiet times and Sunday School lessons.

From first grade through senior adults, the entire church was focused on one thing — principles of discipleship. Using Explore the Bible, a systematic study of all 66 books of the Bible, the staff chose to focus on Philippians, and all eight weeks revolved around the book.

“They moved all the adults to the Explore the Bible series of Sunday School curriculum,” said Doug Merritt, LifeWay church consultant in the Mid-South region. “They built a focused and promotable campaign based on LifeWay Sunday School materials.”

Merritt said one of the advantages of FBC Clarksville’s campaign is that it allowed the church to conduct a strong special emphasis event without interrupting the flow of its ongoing Bible study plan.

Karen Grizzard, a secretary at First Baptist who wrote some of the material for the devotions, said the study has allowed her to connect with more people in the church.

“The feedback that I’ve had has been tremendous,” Grizzard said. “It’s been personally very rewarding to know that God used me in a small way to touch a lot of people.”

Grizzard said one of the things she has noticed is that people in the church feel more in touch with the staff. Sandra Karr, a member of the church for more than 20 years, agreed.

“It’s been a very sweet thing to me,” Karr said. “The way the devotionals are written makes you feel like you’re sitting down with the staff member.”

The church is planning a six-week follow-up to “Eight Weeks of Purpose” during the Easter season called “March to the Cross.”

Griffith said he has been very pleased with the results and attributes it all to God’s work in people’s lives. “When people spend time with God on a daily basis, it influences their Sunday School attendance and church attendance, but more importantly, it really impacts their lives.”

    About the Author

  • Leslie Ann Shoemake