HERNANDO, Miss. (BP)–At the outset, Longview Point Baptist Church opted to give 8 percent of undesignated offerings to the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ global missions effort, and 2 percent to the Northwest (Miss.) Baptist Association for local missions needs.
Now in their second year, they’re bumping CP Missions up to 10 percent, plus 3 percent to the association.
“We thought it was important for our church to build it into our DNA to give to missions,” said Wade Humphries, pastor of the new church in Hernando, Miss., just south of Memphis.
“Whatever financial resources came in, we felt it was important to be faithful to invest in missions,” Humphries said. “When we give to the Cooperative Program we are investing in the Kingdom of God and in eternity, because God uses our resources to see people saved. What better investment is there than that?”
The pastor described the Cooperative Program as “the most effective missions-sending system in existence. I’ve been Southern Baptist all my life. I’ve seen the way we send our missionaries and train people to be missionaries. The Cooperative Program is a vital way for churches to cooperate and get more done than one church could ever do by itself.”
Begun in September 2002 with a core of 35 people from Longview Heights Baptist Church in nearby Olive Branch, Miss., Longview Point has grown to about 225 people in two Sunday morning worship services held in a former hardware store on the Hernando town square.
“It’s the power of God working in our midst,” the pastor said. “We’re careful to give Him all the credit and to get involved where He’s involved.”
Longview Point itself is an expression of Southern Baptist cooperation, Humphries said. Spearheaded by Longview Heights in Olive Branch, the new church also received assistance from the Northwest Baptist Association and the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
About 125 people attended the first service, which followed an area-wide media thrust — surveys and distribution of flyers. Attendance dropped to the mid-90s for a couple of weeks, then began edging upward week by week. By April 2003, the 160 or more worshipers were maxing out the space and a second service was added.
The rapid growth has happened because God has blessed the congregation’s Bible-based focus, obedience to spread the Good News and to commitment to be involved in missions, Humphries said.
“Because God has been so gracious to our family of faith, we are responsible and accountable for being on His agenda, and His agenda is going,” the pastor said. “That’s why we’re emphasizing that.”
More than a dozen Longview Point members spent a week on a Navajo reservation in Arizona last summer where they worked in Vacation Bible School and led in evening services. Other members traveled to Missoula, Mont., to help with a new church. Four mission trips are in the planning stages for next summer.
The church is intentional about its missions commitment, the pastor said. In addition to the hands-on involvement in missions trips, members have heard from several international missionaries on stateside assignment who have spoken to the church. The congregation also is in the process of adopting an unreached people group to pray for.
And the pastor on Wednesday nights passes out copies of receipts from the Mississippi Baptist Convention for the church’s Cooperative Program giving. “It’s a tangible, visible expression of our priority as a church,” Humphries said. “If we say missions is important and preach on the Great Commission and talk about being involved in the Great Commission — all that takes financial resources.
“I try to stress to our church that we’re not a lone ranger church,” the pastor said. “We’re part of a whole uniting together to see the Kingdom expand to God’s honor and glory.”
Longview Point also recognizes its responsibility to reach out locally.
The church participates in community events, such as the occasional open houses for businesses on the town square. The church provides free hot drinks, punch, refreshments, comfort facilities and a place for people to get in out of the weather. The church entered a float in the town’s Christmas parade last year. Later in the winter they passed out free packets of hot chocolate with information about the church on one side and a Gospel presentation on the other.
“We look for every opportunity to get the word out about our church,” Humphries said. “It’s been neat. I think we’ve really raised this community’s level of awareness about our church.
“We’ve had a lot of people visit our church who have been out of church for years,” the pastor said. “They have wounds, but the Lord is bringing healing in their lives.”
Longview Point’s focus is toward a multigenerational unchurched spectrum rather than a specific type of individual, Humphries said.
“Part of that is because our core group was so diverse,” he explained. “We decided to worship and see what God did. The result has been really neat. … You see the Titus 2 church emerging, where you have the older teaching the younger. That’s exciting to me as pastor, to see growth all across the board.”
Longview Point, although a new outreach, has added two part-time associate pastors: youth and worship.
“We didn’t expect this kind of growth in a year’s time,” said Humphries, who is in his first pastorate since graduating in May 2002 from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis. During his seminary years he was a pastor in Memphis; before, a youth pastor.
“I was hoping we’d be 75 to 100,” Humphries continued. “This is beyond our wildest expectations. I preached on Ephesians 3:20 for our one-year anniversary. Those verses are our battle cry. It’s all about God doing exceedingly abundantly beyond what we ask or think. We give Him all of the glory.”
Humphries also expressed deep appreciation for the sponsoring congregation, Longview Heights.
“They have a vision for reaching the unchurched,” Humphries said. “We owe them our existence; it’s due to them being obedient to start new churches.” Wayne Marshall is the pastor at Longview Heights.
“We place a maximum amount of importance on the Lordship of Christ,” Humphries added. “He’s the head of the church. He gave us the Great Commission and we feel like we need to take that commandment seriously. He limits us to ‘the ends of the earth,’ and to fulfill that mandate, we need the Cooperative Program.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: STURDY BEGINNING, SUNDAY MORNING CHAT and INITIAL OUTREACH.