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Two Rivers sets sights on 10 ‘quantum leaps’ in ’04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Two Rivers Baptist Church is taking 10 “quantum leaps” this year toward its future.

Otherwise, said Jerry Sutton, pastor since Easter 1986, “If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’re going to get what we’ve always had.”

Not that “what we’ve always had” has been bad. The church was founded by former Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Harold Bennett in 1962, and former SBC President Jim Henry was its pastor for 12 years.

About 2,000 meet for Sunday morning worship and Sunday School, and at least 100 people have been baptized so far this year.

Two Rivers was stop No. 22 on SBC President Bobby Welch’s bus tour of Southern Baptist churches across the nation in kicking off “The Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism” campaign which has the goal of “Witness, Win and Baptize … ONE MILLION!” in one year.

Two Rivers started at the end of McGavock Pike; then a freeway was built; the country music tourist destination Opryland followed.

“God took Two Rivers from a dead end road to the crossroads of a superhighway,” Sutton said.

His role as pastor? “Bottom line, God called me to shepherd a flock,” Sutton said. “Lead, feed and intercede. Leadership provides direction, sets parameters, allocates resources and puts people into position to raise up emerging leaders.”

The 10 quantum leaps Sutton is leading Two Rivers to make this year: First, an 11:01 a.m. Sunday morning worship service. The 9:30 a.m. service is “real stable,” the pastor said, and the time is attractive to those who want to watch the Tennessee Titans football team kick off at noon.

“Let’s add a service to go after the younger group,” Sutton suggested. The target age group is 16 to 32, with advertising geared to junior/senior high school students; college students; young singles; young parents.

Ads range from Nashville-area parenting magazines to the “edgy Christian” radio station and the ABC affiliate.

The new service launched in mid-August; a grand opening is set for October, complete with an on-site Starbucks, with 20 church members already trained to run it.

“The whole point is to attract the younger-aged crowd who are not going anywhere,” Sutton said. “For us this is an exciting time, an exciting opportunity.”

Two Rivers just launched its first semester of the FAITH strategy for evangelism through the Sunday School with 25 teams. That’s its second quantum leap, the pastor said.

The others:

3. A business and professional luncheon downtown on Thursdays led by the pastor. His opening series: What does it mean to have a Christ-centered life?

4. Dinner with the pastor, something that was phased out about five years ago. “We’re going to do it once a month, in a banquet format, as an outreach opportunity,” Sutton said.

5. Instead of a new members’ class, Two Rivers will host a new members’ breakfast before church, to introduce them to the staff and key leaders, “to basically give them a ‘next step’ plan to getting involved,” the pastor said.

6. Sutton intends to see Two Rivers host an annual Ministers’ Summer Institute that would follow the Southern Baptist Convention.

“We’re looking at taking six days, six hours of teaching a day,” Sutton said. “If you haven’t been to seminary in five or 10 years and want a refresher course, or maybe just get motivated, we’d like to invite you to this.” He’s already begun conversations with LifeWay Christian Resources about the concept, Sutton added.

7. Concurrent with FAITH, a team at Two Rivers is going door-to-door in newly built neighborhoods with small gifts -– such as baked goods or books –- and inviting the residents to church.

“It’s an outreach approach,” Sutton said. “The whole point is to go to new neighborhoods, where folks may not go to church anywhere.”

8. As part of a new thrust to “ratchet up” Two Rivers’ men’s ministries, the pastor leads a Thursday morning men’s Bible study on leadership, drawing 45 to 75 participants each week.

“In most churches the ladies are a whole lot farther ahead than men,” Sutton said. “I told our folks I really want to help bring out our men.”

Also part of the quantum leap: a series of men’s events similar to one-night Promise Keepers rallies.

9. Because the church has numerous young families, some of whom are deeply in debt, Two Rivers recently entered a partnership with Crown Financial Ministries to provide stewardship training in small group settings. It’s the first time the church has partnered with an outside group, but it is a significant way the church can minister to the body, the pastor said.

10. A major review is being done of Two Rivers’ children’s ministry. “We’re not throwing out what we’ve done, but bringing children’s ministry to the 21st century,” the pastor explained.

“Last year was a tough year for us, starting off,” Sutton said. “Now, here we are seven weeks into the new budget year, and we are $125,000 ahead of budget. With these quantum leaps, we have a clear direction where God wants us to go, and you need resources to work off of. Your motive for resources is ministry.” Thirteen percent of Two Rivers receipts goes to Cooperative Program (CP) Missions and other missions causes, the pastor said. The church also sends out many of its members on short-term mission trips, with 25 slated this year.