REDMOND, Ore. – Highland Baptist Church pivoted easily last March to an online worship service because a year earlier, church leaders included $30,000 in the church’s capital fundraising campaign for technology upgrades.
When pandemic restrictions hit the central Oregon town last spring, the church had the money to purchase two remote-controlled Panasonic cameras as well as a new video switcher and sound board. More recently, Highland Baptist added a full-time technology director to its vocational staff.
“What’s important is reaching people with the Gospel,” Pastor Barry Campbell said. He’s led for 11 years the church where pre-pandemic, more than 850 people participated in Sunday worship.
“As we reach people, meet their needs and help them grow in Jesus, we complete the circle by encouraging them to live out their faith,” Campbell said. “Giving to missions through the Cooperative Program is an important way to do that.”
The 10 percent of undesignated offerings Highland Baptist allocates to missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptist churches partner together, is in addition to the $34,193 recently gathered for the SBC’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.
“At Highland Baptist Church, we believe in giving to missions, and we find no more trusted way to do that than the Cooperative Program,” said Campbell, who also is in his second one-year term as president of the Northwest Baptist Convention. “CP gives us an opportunity to do some things in partnership with other SBC churches we could never do alone.
“In addition, through our trustee system, all the agencies that receive our Cooperative Program funds are accountable to us. The SBC really is very much a grassroots, combined effort to reach people worldwide with the Gospel message.”
Highland Baptist focuses on missions during worship services, in Life Group settings, hands-on involvement locally, and short-term trips. It sponsors a church plant in the Crooked River Ranch area, and plans are in place for another plant in Bend, both in central Oregon. Highland Baptist also has thriving ministries for married couples and those with special needs.
The church offers three distinct services each Sunday: one to appeal to Boomers, another to young families and an acoustic service to attract still others. The same message is given at each service.
“We have found the people in central Oregon are hungry for rock-solid Bible teaching, super applicable and super simple,” Campbell said. “That is what we’re known for.”
Announcements, short videos and scriptures that reinforce worship are delivered via the new technology, which allows for smooth switching from one camera to another and dozens of sound inputs. It makes for a professional-level online worship service production.
About 500 people currently attend onsite worship. Another 450 or more watch the service of their choice at home.
“We try to be very intentional about communicating with people,” Campbell said. “I think it’s the preaching of the Word that draws people in, but if you don’t have an organizational structure to find and keep people, they drift away.
“We try to do a great job of connecting with people. Even those who watch online. We are very intentional to include them in our service itself. I’ll mention them two to three times. We have people chatting with them during the service and our communication team follows up with them during the week.”
Life groups are a vital part of retaining members, Campbell said. Life groups help assimilate people into the congregation even as they help people grow in their walk with the Lord and as Christ-followers who live missionally.
“When you have as many people come through the door as we do, Life groups are essential,” he said. “We can’t keep track of people without a strong Life group system.”
One local endeavor is being the final entry in Redmond’s community parades. Highland members wear t-shirts with the church’s name, and pick up trash left behind, as a service to the community. The church recently gave $2,500 to the city for a police dog. It invites the community to its Salute to America festival each summer (except for 2020) on Highland Baptist’s 12-acre property. In 2019, church members passed out 1,200 hot dogs in 15 minutes.
“We encourage our people to be involved in living out your faith in the community, in the workplace, any way you can,” Campbell said. Members are involved in the local food bank, crisis pregnancy center, and individual needs they come across that aren’t being met elsewhere.
Campbell and his wife Marci lead together in local marriage conferences based on what they have learned through 44 years of marriage. They also do couples counseling as their personal ministry.
“We model a healthy marriage,” the pastor said. “It’s a real privilege.”
Pre-pandemic, church members went on five to seven mission trips a year. This included trips as part of a large team from the Northwest Baptist Convention, which has a partnership with an unnamed large nation, plus Peru, Portugal and Moldova as well as across the Pacific Northwest.
“There is no question that Highland Baptist Church benefits from partnership with our state convention and association,” Campbell said. “These partnerships give us the opportunity to learn from and benefit from our sister churches. They give us access to training and resources we would not otherwise experience. And sometimes, we have the opportunity to help sister churches.”
Marci Campbell was a Special Education consultant with Lifeway Christian Resources for several years and brought that expertise to Highland Baptist when the Campbell family first arrived.
Today there is a Life Group for adults with special needs, a sensory classroom for children, and children’s teachers are trained to work with special education students, since several are included in regular classes. For several years, the church has sent a team to the New York City area to assist churches with special needs ministries.
“Another great benefit of giving, praying and going in partnership with our SBC agencies is that it gives us the opportunity to see families called out to the mission field,” Campbell said. “Two families from our staff have answered that call and are going soon to serve God, through the [International Mission Board], around the world.”