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Pastor stops other church ministries to focus on evangelism, Bible study

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When Willie Jacobs attended a FAITH training clinic last October at First Baptist Church, Carrollton, Texas, he was pastor of a two-month-old, 50-member congregation meeting in a Marriott Hotel ballroom.
Jacobs, pastor of New Life Community Fellowship in Carrollton, described himself as overwhelmed by the possibilities of the FAITH strategy that combines evangelism and Sunday school. LifeWay Christian Resources, in cooperation with First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., developed the strategy and materials.
“I asked the Lord how we could do this with our small membership,” he recalled.
The answer Jacobs received was dramatic.
He announced he was stopping all church ministries for 1999 except FAITH and Sunday school. In January, he took 27 church leaders through a “crash course to be FAITH team leaders.”
In March, he launched FAITH training with about 40 more adults, working in 18 three-person teams headed by those who had gone through the initial training.
While evangelism is central to FAITH, New Life teams made their first visits to church members.
“We began in Jerusalem,” Jacobs said. “We set up ministry visits and enrolled every member of our church in Sunday school.”
Sunday school attendance climbed from less than 20 to 75. Four new adult classes and two youth classes have been started.
With membership now standing at about 150, Jacobs has baptized 15 people reached through FAITH. Nineteen others have made professions of faith and await baptism.
Jacobs sees the church’s theme — “Reaching, Teaching, Touching People’s Lives to Impact the Kingdom of God” — beginning to become reality.
“Our people are excited to be part of what God is doing to reach people,” he said. “I have a heart and a hope that the Lord will use us to impact our community.”
Jacobs emphasizes the importance of people understanding that FAITH is not a program but a process.
“We’re teaching people to become Great Commission Christians,” he said. “We broke the barrier of fear with our people through the team concept where people taking FAITH for the first time watch the team leader witness before they do it.”
Reaching men, especially the husbands of female church members, is a priority for New Life.
Every non-Christian man whose wife attends the church is the focus of prayer by members. They are invited to a monthly breakfast.
“We do not proselyte,” Jacobs said. “We’re looking for lost men and women.”
“There is a great open door to win people to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Jacobs said.
While some may consider gathering for worship in a hotel ballroom less than ideal, Jacobs dwells on the positive side.
“We don’t have to worry about setting up or cleaning up. We come focused on worship and celebration,” he said.
At the same time, New Life is actively looking for 10 acres where they plan to build a new facility for 350 people. Church members are being asked to pledge $1,000 over and above their 1999 tithes and offerings. Their goal is to have $125,000 in a building fund by the end of the year. They also hope to baptize 125 people this year and are well on their way to achieve that goal.
New Christians must complete two volumes of Survival Kit for New Christians. The next step is putting their beliefs into practice by becoming involved in FAITH.
“We teach FAITH. We talk FAITH. We share FAITH,” Jacobs said.
While Sunday school and evangelism are the 1999 priorities for New Life, Jacobs already is projecting plans for the future, including taking the entire congregation through the Experiencing God discipleship course in 2000, “to get the whole church on the road to maturity.”
Further out, phase two of a building program already is mapped out and plans identified for adding a drug and alcohol outreach center and adult day care to the preschool day care they project with the first phase of their building.
“We have short-range, medium and long-range goals,” Jacobs said. “There is such a commitment to the ministry, financial as well as giftedness. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Pastors who lead their churches to involvement in the FAITH process will “see a life-changing experience in their church,” he predicts. “FAITH is a new way to get on with the Great Commission.”
While Jacobs’ focus is on his own congregation, he describes himself as on mission to get other African American churches involved in the process.
A pastor and four members of a nearby church are participating in FAITH at New Life and he hopes to involve six or seven more for the next semester.
“I believe the Lord has called me for such a time as this to introduce FAITH to our brethren,” Jacobs said.

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  • Linda Lawson