DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)–A church that had dwindled to five members has seen success and more than 400 percent growth using the FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy.
Bethel Baptist Church in West Point, Ga., was about to “lock its doors” two years ago with just five members left, said Tom Owensby, a vocational evangelist from LaGrange, Ga.
“I got a call from the director of missions asking if I would be willing to come in for about six months and see if I could help,” he said. “I’m in evangelism fulltime and hadn’t served as an interim pastor before, but I said I would see what I could do.”
Owensby, who had gone through FAITH Sunday school evangelism training, decided he had nothing to lose by trying FAITH at Bethel.
“There were three ladies at the church who were determined the church was not going to close and they agreed to go through the FAITH training,” he recounted. “I led them through the 16 weeks and they were faithful. Once a week I would take two of the ladies and my wife would go with the other one.
“The ladies were a little shy, but they went out every week,” Owensby said. “We were quite a site walking down the busy highway with cars whooshing by us doing those FAITH surveys.”
But they visited, shared, took FAITH opinion polls and the church began to grow.
A year later, Bethel Baptist Church runs between 40 and 50 in church, Owensby said. “Now they have a choir and ushers. They are financially sound. They have youth and children’s programs going. They do VBS [Vacation Bible School] in the summer. They are ready to start their fourth semester of FAITH.”
Owensby said his intention as interim was to take them through FAITH and get them ready, then to lead them to call a new pastor — one who was already FAITH-trained or at least ready to go through the training.
As the church grew and became more stable, they were ready to call a pastor. They called Kenneth Cole — who had been trained in FAITH — as pastor. He is there now, still leading the church in FAITH.
“People try to say that FAITH won’t work in little churches, but that’s just not true,” Owensby said. “It will work anywhere a pastor will lead and the people will follow.
“FAITH is a tremendous ministry. You can’t beat it. FAITH gives the pastor a tool to put in the hands of laypeople to help them boldly and courageously go out and share their faith,” he said.
Owensby, who is now serving as interim at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Butler, Ga., and about 400 other people attended the National FAITH Institute in Daytona Beach, Fla., Jan 27-31, sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
FAITH is a strategy that combines evangelism and Sunday School. It originated at First Baptist, Daytona Beach, and was introduced to Southern Baptists five years ago by LifeWay Christian Resources.
For more information, Owensby may be reached at [email protected]. To find out more about the FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy, call the toll-free FAITH information line, 1-877-324-8498, or go to www.lifeway.com/faith.
BP photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: BIG GAINS AT SMALL CHURCH.