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EKG study helps pastor advance Kingdom vision in his church

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (BP)–Macedonia Baptist Church was in the midst of finalizing plans for a 1,500-square-foot addition to its tiny fellowship hall in Fayetteville, N.C., last October.

Instead, just a few months later, the small rural church is about to break ground on a separate new recreational building eight times the size, at 12,000 square feet.

While the vision may have grown exponentially, an EKG revealed nary a blip of an accelerated pulse among church members who will pay for it –- except for mounting excitement about furthering the Kingdom of God.

This “EKG” stands for “Empowering Kingdom Growth: The Heartbeat of God,” a 40-day Bible study by Kenneth Hemphill, the national strategist for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis.

Abandoning its modest building plans in favor of a larger vision is something Pastor Sam Gore sees as evidence of what he called the “paradigm shift” the study reinforced for the church, which sees about 100 people in Sunday worship.

“The church no longer expects people to be committed to the church as an institution. We now expect the church to be committed to its people. The larger building meets the needs of the people,” Gore said.

The EKG study solidified the membership’s larger vision because of its focus on the Kingdom of God, the pastor said.

Gore said the study appealed to him because it is the perspective from which he has preached since coming to the church two years ago. In that time, with a focus on the Great Commission, Sunday School attendance has doubled. And, whereas two years ago three children participated in Wednesday night children’s ministries, 40 now participate.

Gore said the EKG study reinforced the focus of his ministry.

In 2004, the church tripled its giving to the Cooperative Program to support Southern Baptist national and international missions and ministries — and they expect to quadruple it in 2005. The church also collected its largest-ever Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for SBC international missions, raising more than $5,000. And they adopted their largest budget ever, not including the construction project. The new 12,000-square-foot “Families Living for Christ Center” will house a gymnasium, basketball court and a separate room for dinner theater and family events.

Gore is intent on spreading the word about what the EKG study can do to refocus God’s people.

He serves as resource specialist for the New South River Baptist Association in Fayetteville. After seeing the enthusiasm from his congregation to focus on Kingdom matters, he organized participation from 20 churches in the association to conduct the EKG study simultaneously.

Hemphill will kick off the 40-day study with an April 3-4 visit to two churches in the association.

“A church that has a vision is a church that will move forward,” Gore said.

“The real key is focus on Kingdom matters. It’s the central theme of EKG. As Ken Hemphill said: Focused energy is very, very powerful — from a magnifying glass reflecting sunlight to set something on fire to today’s technology of a laser beam penetrating an iron wall,” the pastor said.

“You can have a major impact if a church can focus on the needs of the community.”

    About the Author

  • Andrea Higgins