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Participation in Christian study plan tops half million, still expanding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–More than half a million Southern Baptists are developing leadership and ministry skills and growing in their faith through the Christian Growth Study Plan, according to statistics recently released by LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.
Morlee Maynard, ministry coordination specialist in the LifeWay church resources division, said 541,966 Southern Baptist men, women, teenagers and children were participating in the plan as of May 1999. And in the last church calendar year (1997-98), enrollees represented 26,690 churches, an increase of 2,805 over the previous year. In addition, 67,438 new participants joined the plan last year.
“I really think this is one of Southern Baptists’ best-kept secrets,” Maynard said. “We continue to experience growth and hear reports of the positive impact these courses are making in people’s lives.”
Formerly known as the Church Study Course, the plan was renamed the Christian Growth Study Plan in 1996. It is coordinated by LifeWay and supported by several other Southern Baptist entities, including the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, Woman’s Missionary Union and SBC Seminary Extension.
The plan is designed to assist churches by providing a systematic approach to learning in two categories: 1) leadership and skills development and 2) Christian growth. Participants earn “credits” toward diplomas in one of the two categories. A diploma requires a minimum of 10 hours in group or individual study time.
Course credits are tracked by LifeWay and can be retrieved electronically via the Internet, http://www.lifeway.com/cgsp; telephone, (615) 251-2525; fax, (615) 251-5067; or mail, Christian Growth Study Plan, 127 Ninth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37234-0117. Individual transcripts, church master lists and other types of reports for associations and state conventions are available.
For 1997-98, churches in the Baptist General Convention of Texas earned the most diplomas (5,662), followed by the Florida Baptist Convention, 4,790; Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia, 4,636; Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, 3,632; and the Alabama Baptist State Convention, 3475.
The five churches earning the most diplomas in 1997-98 were: Shadow Hills Baptist Church, Las Vegas, 349; First Baptist Church, Pleasant Grove, Ala., 267; New Faith Missionary Baptist Church, Houston, 243; Forest Park Baptist Church, Joplin, Mo., 225; and First Baptist Church, Palmetto, Fla., 220.
Maynard said nine new diploma plans were recently added to the system, including courses related to men’s and women’s ministry, preschool and children’s ministry, church history, missions, health and parenting.
The Christian Growth Study Plan Catalog for 1999-2000 is being mailed to churches in June, Maynard said. It is the only publication that lists all resources available from all SBC entities.
For more information about the plan and to receive a free catalog, call (615) 251-2525 or write to: Christian Growth Study Plan, 127 Ninth Ave. North, Nashville, TN 36234-0117.

    About the Author

  • Chip Alford