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Pastor says prayerwalking keyed ‘amazing’ growth

LUGOFF, S.C. (BP)–“We’d been growing already,” said Chuck Everett, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lugoff, S.C., “and God was doing some great things.
“But in December 1996, three people from the state convention came to teach us how to do prayerwalks.
“Forty-five members pledged to prayerwalk in the Lugoff area at least once a week, and the next week we began to see growth in earnest. It’s been amazing ever since.”
Trinity averaged 100 in Sunday school in 1996. This year, Everett said, they have averaged 165 in Sunday school and 225 in two worship services. They began the 1997-98 year with more than 200 in Sunday school, which Everett hopes will become the norm. Sunday school classes meet in the kitchen, in the auditorium and even in the baptismal area because of lack of space. The current building, which members were told should last them seven to 10 years, is less than adequate already, at only four years old.
In the past year, 106 individuals joined Trinity. And it’s kingdom growth, not simply church growth — 40 percent of the additions were conversions. Of the remainder, 80 percent were unchurched. The median age of candidates for baptism, according to Everett, is 21.
Most are young families who have relocated in the Lugoff-Elgin area, a bedroom community of Columbia. Industry in the Lugoff area has grown, attracting young families, as does Everett.
“Chuck’s excitement is contagious,” said John Zirkle, deacon and lay leader at Trinity. “The time he spends in seeking God’s message, and how he puts it in practical, enthusiastic, exciting terms for the young people — it catches on.”
Bernice Popham, former director of the missions growth team for the South Carolina Baptist Convention and one of the people who helped train Trinity members in prayerwalking, agreed. “Chuck is so excited, and the members pick up on that. He keeps missions in front of the people.”
“It is obvious that God is anointing the pastor and people of Trinity,” said Bill Mackey, director of evangelism at the state convention. “They are focused on inviting and conversion evangelism; and they are following growth plans: prayer, witnessing, Sunday school enlargement, exciting worship, outreach and strong new member development.”
Everett attributes the growth to the members’ dedication to witnessing. “We believe if you are not actively winning people to Jesus, you are not spiritually mature. We expect our members to witness, and because they do, the church is blossoming,” he said.
Monday night visitation averages 15, with a goal, Everett said, of “someone in this church presenting the plan of salvation to someone every day of the week.”
The “Survival Kit for New Christians” discipleship course is recommended for all new members of Trinity. “We can’t assume new members know anything,” Everett explained.
That’s not all. New members also are asked to complete “Trinity 101,” a class that explains the church’s philosophy: “We exist for two reasons: for the worship of God through Jesus Christ, and for those who do not yet belong to the family of Christ.”
“We are in a kingdom mind-set,” said Everett, a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo. “One of the two books we teach in ‘Trinity 101’ is ‘Kingdom Principles’ by Gene Mims (a Sunday School Board vice president). One of our basic values is that lost people matter to Jesus, and our primary mission is to lost people. The Great Commission is our church growth strategy.”
In keeping with that strategy, members have participated in the Kyrgyzstan and West Virginia missions partnerships, and volunteer regularly at a social services ministry.
And in keeping with the increase in church membership, Trinity broke ground Sept. 14 for a new educational facility.
“I can’t keep a smile off my face,” Everett said.

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  • Amanda Phifer