TIFTON, Ga. (BP)–Northside Baptist Church emphasizes biblical teaching, hands-on missions involvement and a commitment to reaching people globally via increased Cooperative Program (CP) Missions support.
“The church made a commitment more than 30 years ago to steadily increase giving to the Cooperative Program,” said Fred Evers, pastor of the Tifton, Ga., congregation since 1999. “But it’s not enough to give money…. When our church goes somewhere and does something for another church, God will bless us for that effort.”
In addition to ministering locally, nationally and globally, the 600 people who gather for worship each week at Northside commit 15 percent of their $1.1 million budget to CP Missions.
“We are blessed to have several of our own church family go to serve with the International Mission Board,” Evers said of the SBC entity which receives half of all Cooperative Program dollars. “We currently have members serving in Mozambique, Zambia, South Asia and undisclosed locations.
“In recent years the IMB has struggled with the number of missionaries they could send,” Evers said. “The fact is the cost of everything is rising. … The genius of the Cooperative Program is not how much a church gives, but the percentage. Think what we could do if every Southern Baptist church made a goal of at least 10 percent to CP Missions.”
Evers noted that preparing future missionaries, pastors and other ministry leaders also is part of the Cooperative Program.
“Our church will have four students at Southern Baptist seminaries this fall,” the pastor said. “I graduated from Southern Seminary and New Orleans Seminary, and I never could have afforded that if it had not been for the Cooperative Program. That’s a personal issue for me.”
So is biblical preaching.
“The Scripture commands us to teach the Word,” Evers said, noting, “I put a lot of emphasis on biblical preaching….
“We must saturate our churches with biblical education –- it’s the driving inspiration to make the church do what it ought to do.”
The pastor leads a six-week study once a year specifically for the men of the church. One year the topic was “Everything your pastor wants you to know,” which included praying, tithing, parenting and being a good husband. This year the study is “Men who met Jesus.”
“It gives our men an opportunity to be together and worship together as men,” Evers said. “We have a lot of younger families, and we’re trying to get some of our younger men to increase their activity level in the church. My long-term goal is to develop leaders.”
The series closed this year with a Sunday evening service in which men met separately from the women.
“I preach to the men and my wife speaks to the ladies,” Evers said. “There is a distinctive atmosphere when men worship together. Far too often our men are not stepping up to the plate of leadership. When men can come together in study, worship and fellowship, they are more likely to catch the vision of the church, and by doing so they strengthen the congregation.”
A strengthened congregation is more likely to be involved in hands-on missions, and being involved in hands-on missions further strengthens the members, the pastor said.
“The Scripture commands us to go, and I think it’s important our people go outside the four walls of our church,” Evers said. “It’s a good growing experience for our church.”
Meanwhile, Northside also is involved in a relocation project. Four years ago the church began the process and has since raised $2.8 million over and above regular gifts. At present, 46 acres of land have been purchased and paid for and a $2.2 million building fund has been raised. The sale of the present facility is anticipated soon.
“Our purpose is to reach Tifton with the Gospel,” Evers said. “The whole idea of a new building is to reach more people…. Every church I ever served always needed more land. My goal was to have enough land that we wouldn’t need any more until Jesus comes. We are not leaving our community. The new property is only a mile away from our present site. The sole purpose in moving is to give us more room to grow.”
Northside hosts the Upward Basketball evangelistic sports outreach for about 125 youngsters from the community in the church’s family life center, which also serves as a Red Cross shelter when needed, The shelter has been activated three times in the last two years to help care for people fleeing from Florida hurricanes. Tifton, 60 miles north of the Florida border, is on Interstate 75, one of Florida’s evacuation routes.
“We try to do things in our community that maybe people might not think of churches being involved in,” Evers said. “Several folks in our area are involved in foster care and adopting foster children, and last year we sponsored a meeting in our family life center with the governor’s wife, which brought together all the resources in the community involved with foster care.
“The Georgia PBS actually did a story about one family in our church, who had adopted four foster children,” the pastor continued. “It was an opportunity to carry a witness of our faith to the community.”
Deacons scrambled Easter Sunday 2004 to serve meals to firefighters in Tifton battling a huge warehouse fire in another opportunity to be a vital witness in the community, the pastor said.
Northside also supports a Hispanic mission, pregnancy care center, Georgia Baptist Children’s Home, Brother Charlie’s Rescue Mission and Baptist Collegiate Ministries at Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton.
In recent years Northside has attempted to take at least one major mission trip nationally that involves a large number of church members. This summer they will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., on a construction/Vacation Bible School/backyard Bible clubs mission project that also will include evening services and block parties. They anticipate as many as 50 members participating. Last year the church sent a team to Kimball, Neb., and the year before that, New Jersey, where the pastor also led a marriage conference.
“We doubled their Sunday morning attendance at the church in Nebraska, and that made a big impact,” Evers said. “They had about 100 kids in VBS, the most they’d ever done. The church is in a pioneer area for Southern Baptists. Our presence strengthened and encouraged them. God’s blessings will be returned to us because of the investments we make outside the walls of our church.”
Members from Northside Tifton also have participated in international missions trips to Turkey, Mexico, Romania, Mozambique — and to Dearborn, Mich., to participate in a major outreach to the many Muslims in the metro area.