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Skateboards & Sunday School not mutually exclusive here

LEXINGTON, Tenn. (BP)–Skateboards and Sunday School. It almost seems like a contrast in terms to have the two in the same sentence. Much less in the same church.

But First Baptist Church of Lexington, Tenn., seems to deal exclusively in contrasts. On one hand, they’re not afraid to step out in faith and adopt new and innovative ministry ideas. On the other, they continue to utilize the tried and true traditions that have helped to form a vibrant, growing church.

While Lexington is a small town with a population of about 7,000, First Baptist averages 670 in weekly Sunday School attendance, nearly 10 percent of the town’s total population.

Hoyt Wilson, the church’s pastor for 24 years, said, “We are people of God on a spiritual journey. Heaven is our final destination. We want as much company as we can get as we assist one another along the way.

“I think one of the main reasons we have continued to grow is because of our focus on outreach and Sunday School,” Wilson said. “We try to blend the traditional and contemporary. Basically, we try to be pretty up front in technology and conservative in theology.”

The church’s youth department is engaged in one of the church’s newest ministry opportunities: Every Thursday night, dozens of teens participate in a skateboard ministry.

“When the city passed laws forbidding skateboarding on the streets, we saw a perfect opportunity to minister to a group no church was trying to reach,” said David Holmes, minister of music and youth. “We took $400 and had some of the youth from church help construct ramps. We use a building which houses buses, and every Thursday night we pull out the buses, set up the ramps and see how we can minister.

“We are really reaching a totally non-churched group here,” Holmes continued. “They come complete with tattoos and green hair, and many of them have never been in a church. We start the night with a Bible study, and we’re really seeing these kids accepting Christ.” Holmes said the activity attracts youth from several surrounding towns.

As another part of their outreach ministry, First Baptist uses the FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy from LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. As they prepare to enter their fourth semester, they have 11 active teams that average three to four visits a week per team. FAITH participants include children, youth, adult workers and church deacons. While they currently have FAITH teams in every division of their Bible study, their ultimate goal is to have a FAITH team in every department, and eventually in every Sunday School class.

“Having many people trained and active in sharing the gospel multiplies the effort of the church to win the lost,” said Bill Greene, minister of education and outreach. “FAITH is growing in enthusiasm and in numbers. When growing Christians have a desire to share their faith and find a way to do it, it becomes less intimidating. People like to be obedient to what God wants in our lives, and finding a way to do that is exciting.”

First Baptist also has two annual Sunday School attendance campaigns: a seven-week program in the spring and a five-week program in the fall. These run the weeks prior to revivals, with high attendance day to be on the first day of revival. Each Sunday School sets a goal and charts their progress, with members making personal contacts.

“We are trying to get our folks to think about contacting everyone every week even if they attend regularly,” Greene said. “Everyone needs the Christian support that we only get in church families and church support. If we as Christians don’t support each other, where will we get Christian support? I guess we try to remember we are running a race. It’s a long race and we must make consistent effort and at times we pick up the pace but try to work at it all the time.”

In addition to FAITH, the church implements a variety of programs for adults. Deacons and their wives are trained as counselors, and the church currently has 42 deacons who are active in family ministry.

The youth and children’s departments also are using a mixture of contemporary and traditional programs.

“Wednesday night is missions for our church,” said Melanie Lawler, director of preschool and children. “The main assembly for the adults is usually missions reports, so we try to keep the evening mission oriented. That’s why we have continued to use RAs [Royal Ambassadors], GAs [Girls in Action] and Mission Friends. We feel that missions is important for all ages.”

Lawler also uses TeamKID, a recreation-based discipleship club created by LifeWay.

“We open each TeamKID session with a worship rally,” Lawler said. “We use contemporary Christian music that helps keep the kids interested. The style is similar to what they listen to in the secular world, but with much more uplifting lyrics. We use the lessons as they are written in TeamKID, but we tack on the worship rally,” which Lawler said has helped in doubling TeamKID attendance.
For more information about FBC, Lexington, visit their website at www.fbclexington.com. To learn more about FAITH and TeamKID, go to www.lifeway.com. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ROLLING ALONG.

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  • Brandy Campbell