A Mission to Fulfill
Report from the Forward Vision Team
December 1, 2001
This is the Ministry Plan Report required by the motion to relocate. It is slightly redacted. You can download the report in MS Word by right-clicking your mouse and selecting SAVE TARGET AS.
A Mission to Fulfill (52 kb)
As part of the decision to
relocate, the church voted on August 26, 2001 to establish a Forward Vision
Team. The team was directed to produce
a ministry plan by December 1. The
Forward Vision Team will then secure architectural services and begin work on a
Master Site Plan for new facilities.
The Master Site Plan is to be developed with the Ministry Plan in mind,
as ministry, of course, will be the purpose of the building. The Forward Vision Team has been working on
relocation along with the Ministry Plan, but the only the Ministry Plan is
included in this report.
Since September 24, the Forward
Vision Team has held 13 meetings, averaging more than two hours each. Our second meeting included reports from the
Church Program and Building Plans sub-committee of the previous Building
Committee, as required by the relocation motion. At that time, we received input from the Sunday School Director
and Upward Basketball Commissioner.
Glenn Akins was retained to aid in developing a ministry plan. With his help, we distributed questionnaires
to the church. We utilized the Celebrate
Your Church materials from the State Convention, particularly its
evaluation instruments. We have looked
at the summaries from discussion times in which the pastor drew input from
church members on consecutive weeks in the mid-week services. We received reports from the Evangelism
Ministry Team, the Prayer Ministry Team, and the Teaching Ministry Leadership
Team. These teams evaluated their areas
of the church’s work. In addition, team
members have read books and listened to tapes.
All of this information and input has greatly aided the Forward Vision
Team in formulating this ministry plan.
This report will summarize
strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and opportunities of First Baptist based
upon the information received and reviewed by the Forward Vision Team. In these, we are seeking to describe our
unique niche to advance the work of the Kingdom in our community. Recommendations are included at the end of
Strengths to Celebrate and… to Build On
Sunday Morning Bible Study has increased 55% since 1995, from 154 to 239
people. In the 2000 and 2001 church
year reports, the increase was just over 12% each year. In 1999 we had 286 people in Sunday School
on high attendance day, in 2000 we had 343, and on October 28 of this year, we
Numerical growth has been experienced on Sunday and
Wednesday nights as well. This has
resulted from changes in these worship opportunities. Five years ago, on Wednesdays we had Senior Singers and a 5:30
Prayer Meeting. People who worked in Montgomery were
unable to attend midweek services. Now
there are opportunities for children and youth, there is a second prayer
service, and a supper that feeds sixty to seventy people per week.
Sunday Morning Bible
Sunday Morning Bible Study is a key component in our church’s
ministry. It gives
structure for providing every age group with outreach and ministry. Several units have moved to ongoing
“shepherd teachers” instead of rotating teachers; this has helped strengthen
ministry and continuity in several classes.
We have, in the last few years, created new units. Since new units grow faster than existing
units, this has helped us to grow.
Co-ed classes have helped promote growth by attracting those who prefer
to attend with their spouses.
Spirit of excitement
Morale is high
at First Baptist right now. People
believe in what the church stands for and that the church is advancing.
Loving fellowship, caring for one another
The reason most
commonly given for joining by new members was, “The atmosphere and members of
the church.” Our members have a record
of caring for one another in times of need such as sickness and death. The work of the Comfort Ministry Team and of
the Homebound Ministry Team are two examples.
An example on a happier note is seen in the young adult Sunday School
classes taking meals to member families with newborns.
Unity and Stability
has a history of getting along. It is a
happy environment, free of the tension that comes with division. When ministers are called, a lengthy tenure
is expected. The vote to relocate
revealed the ability of our church family to discuss delicate subjects and yet
retain our unity. There was a sense of
“closing ranks” even before the vote tally was complete.
Emphasis on Children and Youth
listed the children and youth programs as one of their top three reasons for
visiting and then joining First Baptist.
There is a sense that
spiritual growth is taking place among our members. The numerous home prayer groups and Bible studies are evidence of
this. The vote to relocate demonstrated
that the church is willing to consider appropriate strategies for advancing our
mission; this was a significant step of faith.
Clear Mission Statement
Our mission statement can be
recited by memory by a substantial majority of our members. It was cited by the State Board of Missions
office as one of four examples of a purpose statement in the May 21, 2001
Church Policies training conference. It
isn’t something we just say; we mean it.
Leadership role in the community
We are a vital
part of the community and the community is an important part of our
identity. One example is our church’s
participation in the community Relay for Life. An example going the other direction is Upward Basketball, which
we promote as a community ministry sponsored by First Baptist Church. Tallassee is a good place to live and to
rear a family. This can lead to growth
of the community and, thereby further growth of the church.
Weaknesses to Address
Meaningful Church Membership
We are not here
merely to add members, but to make disciples.
Thus, church membership should mean something more than attending church
services. Members must become more
involved in fulfilling the Great Commission and must be made more aware of what
church membership means.
There are three
ways in which a church grows: Biological growth is when church members
have children. Transfer growth
is when people move their membership from another church to ours. Conversion growth is when lost and
unchurched people come to faith in Jesus Christ and come into the church. We have had outstanding growth these past
several years in the first two categories, but have been weak in conversion
Philosophy of Leadership
As we were
working through one of the evaluation questionnaires, one question concerned
our feelings toward our church’s philosophy of leadership. We decided that though we might have an unofficial
philosophy, we do not have an articulated philosophy of leadership. This touches on several areas: worker
training, deacon training, the role of deacons, and what it is that we value in
our church leaders, generally.
Sometimes, we are a
little more clannish than we realize. This seems to be an unintended result of
people growing up together and knowing each other. This is probably no more true of us than any other town our
size. One respondent to the new member
questionnaire described it this way, “When people who are not in the loop [i.e.
people who moved here from somewhere else] mention a prayer request, they are
not commented on, but if a Tallassee native mentions someone they know, people
ask questions about what hospital and how they are doing.” As more people move into Tallassee from
other places, this will become more and more important to address.
Many of our members have
used the phrase, missions-minded, to describe our church. First Baptist has a good record in
supporting the Cooperative Program. We
support the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong
Offering for Missions in North America.
We have had groups go on mission trips the last two summers. However, the enthusiasm in the church for Relay
for Life far surpassed that for the Annie Armstrong Offering. When information about international
missions is distributed in a bulletin insert, a good number of the inserts are
tossed aside (by adults) only to clutter a table; it would seem that a missions
minded church would be more interested in learning about world
evangelization. Few of us could tell of
a Southern Baptist missionary for whom we are praying by name. Missions support means more than attending a
Opportunities to Pursue
Ministry Teams and Every Member Ministry
Our research has
shown us that, in the past, we as a church had been weaker than we should have
been in Every Member Ministry (that is, involving every member possible in some
form of service to Christ through the church). With Ministry and Service Teams now being formed in the church,
we have an opportunity to mobilize all our membership for more effective
Christian service. The teams that have
been formed to this point have shown great enthusiasm. The key to long-term results will be our
membership keeping this enthusiasm and generating more, so that all of our
members will work at this approach.
interim period, without a youth minister and a music minister, church members
have “stepped up to the plate” and taken initiative to keep things going. This has been a significant step forward in
every member ministry.
Home Bible Studies and Prayer
are numerous such groups in which many of our members are involved. We should enhance the communication we have
with these groups to make our prayer and evangelism more effective.
Young Families with Children
like us make a church like ours…
And a church like ours attracts folks like us
We can use this principle
to reach more people. This is not to
say that we would exclude anyone, but that our best opportunities for growth
are in “playing to our strength”. Our
strength, right now, is in reaching young families with children.
Families we have been reaching are predominantly twenty-somethings
and thirty-somethings, who are married with children. They were attracted to First Baptist because
of the preschool and childrens activities.
They knew someone who was attending here and visited because of them.
They liked the co-ed Sunday School class. The multiple worship service times
was a selling point for them.
School, the two groups where the new members are concentrated are in the Young
Married Department and in the Pairs and Spares. Among the new member questionnaire respondents there is a gap
between those 43 and 59. It was decided
that this was because we reach who we are; there has been something of a gap in
those age groups in our Sunday School for some time.
Limitations to be Acknowledged
First Baptist is not reflective of the overall
population in the Tallassee area
79% of our member families earn over $34,000 per year; 60% earn over
$50,000. 66% of our members have
attended at least some college. This
does not reflect (to the same degree) the community at large. Even now, there are plenty of people whom we
will find to be reachable. And it is
our conclusion that more people of backgrounds similar to ours are on the
way. The growth in western Elmore
County and in eastern Autuaga County has been composed of such people. We must
take all of this into account as we plan.
infrastructure will have to be expanded to support future growth
includes professional ministerial staff, paid support staff, volunteer workers,
the number of units, and supplies – as well as space. Growth will require all of these.
A Strategy to
Reach the Tallassee Area
Evangelism on two tracks
We need to think about evangelism on two
tracks: (1) reaching people like
ourselves and (2) finding ways to impact our community with the gospel to reach
people unlike ourselves.
We have tried the FAITH
evangelism program and do not believe that confrontational approaches will work
in our church. We have had success with
members bringing their friends into the church. A lifestyle evangelism approach is indicated. The Team Task Directive of the Evangelism
Ministry Team spells out an approach to winning the lost that we feel will work
for us, and which we affirm.
reach people in our community who are from somewhat different backgrounds than
most First Baptist members, Evangelism and Benevolence must work hand in
hand. Events and programs will have to
be designed with this strategy in mind.
In light of the above findings, the Forward Vision
Team has developed and recommends the following “Strategy Statement”:
We will provide positive experiences to expose Tallassee area families
to the Gospel, give them opportunities to explore the Christian message, to
receive God’s grace, and to become devoted disciples.
Most people have a “How I got burned at church”
story. Many unbelievers need an
experience that exposes them to the gospel in a positive way. Imagine a lost person taking part in a
fishing tournament and then hearing a world-class fisherman telling some of the
secrets of the sport and giving his testimony.
Exploring the Christian Message
Some people want to “kick the tires” and get an
idea of what being a Christian is about and what it would be like. They want to think it over. The church should offer classes and programs
to aid those facing such a decision.
Six Point Strategy to Reach the Greater Tallassee
Family oriented programming
Intentional lifestyle evangelism
Non-threatening small groups
Planting new congregations
Quality facilities used as a base of operations
What we mean by the terms above:
Greater Tallassee Area
We need to be thinking in
terms of a larger geographical area and prepare to become more of a regional
church. A twenty-minute drive time is
realistic, even if not an absolute for all directions.
Family Oriented Programming
preschoolers, children, and youth, as well as senior adults have contributed to
our church’s growth and should be expanded.
Intentional Lifestyle Evangelism
evangelism means more than just living a good life and hoping that lost people
will ask “Why”. It involves a conscious
choice to build relational bridges to people who don’t know Jesus and who
aren’t in church, making friends, and then crossing the bridges by sharing
Christ in winsome ways.
are anything we do out of the building and off campus. Upward Basketball is one such ministry
already in place. The Forward Vision
Team felt strongly that there is a need in our community for Biblical family
counseling. A Crisis Pregnancy Center
and evangelistic home Bible studies are other examples.
Non-threatening Small Groups
We must provide
opportunities for people to see what Christians look like in action, without
being pressured or embarrassed. Again,
evangelistic home Bible studies connect here.
Also, we need to regularly create new units in Sunday Morning Bible
Study to reach new people.
Planting New Congregations
congregations can reach new people groups who may not feel comfortable coming
to us. We will find someone they will
feel comfortable with and go to them.
Quality Facilities as a Base of Operations
Even when we
have adequate facilities, most of our ministry as a church will take place off
campus. The church scattered does the
work of ministry. However, quality
facilities will enable us to do a better job of equipping God’s people and
attracting others of like faith to join in the labor with us.
Vision Team recommends that the church adopt the evangelism strategy statement
and strategy (on pages 6-7) and that we affirm that the unchurched and
unbelievers in our area are our “primary client.” While dependence upon the work of the Holy Spirit is
acknowledged, we should strive to have our number of Baptisms in a range
equal to at least ten percent of our average Sunday School attendance each
year. This will require deliberate
planning and broad membership participation.
We recommend that the church seek ways to increase baptisms consistent
with this goal.
has been some discussion about moving to one Sunday morning worship service,
instead of two. The Forward Vision Team
recommends at this time that the church retain two services since they have
greatly contributed to the growth in Sunday Morning Bible Study and have been a
contributing factor in families deciding to join First Baptist. We recognize that the early service has
become, by far, the favorite. This has
perhaps somewhat dampened the spirit in the 10:45 service. We recommend that the church seek ways to
strengthen the second morning service.
The possibility of making
one of our two morning worship services contemporary in style has also been
brought up; in fact, more than once. We
recommend that we fine tune at least one of the services to make it (or them) a
little more expressive in style, but that they both remain blended
services. As one person put it in one
of the prayer meeting discussions, “More praise choruses, but not all PowerPoint.”
Some have asked for “a
more conscious focusing on God” in our worship. This is unrelated to style and addresses more of the spirit and
tone of the service. We recommend that
the new minister of music work together with the pastor to find ways to help us
involvement in the worship services through such things as testimonies and
fifth Sunday night music has been mentioned.
We recommend that the pastor and new minister of music implement these
types of things as the Lord leads.
New Member Information Class
that a Church Membership Information Class be provided and new/potential
members be expected to attend, although the class is recommended to all
members. The new member information
class should be held during Sunday School and include such areas as:
beliefs we hold to as Baptists
one becomes a Christian
basics of Christian living
about First Baptist Church and how we operate
about our denominational cooperation.
those who attend could be provided an opportunity to join the church and to
volunteer to serve in some aspect of the church’s ministry.
Team, discussed below, should make a recommendation by the end of 2002 as to
whether a New Member Information Class should become a requirement for
We recommend that
training be provided to facilitate more effective ministry by members. This is not to say that no such training has
been provided in the past, but that such training is an ongoing concern. The Teaching Ministry Leadership Team should
co-labor with the various other ministry teams to provide training in such
Christian doctrine and Baptist distinctives
& marriage enrichment
of material possessions
of life (time, talents, spiritual gifts, the gospel, money)
It should be stressed
that church members should accept such training as a responsibility. In the past, many church members have
ignored training opportunities. The
every member ministry training on LifeLift Sunday was more than
adequately promoted, but the attendance was embarrassing. Only to the degree that our members are
willing to avail themselves of training opportunities will we truly have every
The Forward Vision Team recommends that the personnel committee meet with
appropriate leadership from the State Board of Missions and develop a plan to
expand the ministerial and support staff to facilitate future growth. This would be like a master site plan, as
it would have phases and we would go to each new phase as growth occurred. We further recommend that the Personnel
Committee give careful consideration to a Minister of Preschool and Children in
We recommend that we lay
plans to provide staff, space, units and programming for 400-450 people in
Sunday Morning Bible Study right now.
After that, we should begin to prepare for even more.
Lighthouses of Prayer
We recommend that we pursue having
a home “Lighthouse of Prayer” in every neighborhood in Tallassee to pray for
the needs of the families who live there and for the salvation of the
Guest Response Team
We recommend that a
Ministry Team be formed immediately to process information from guests who
visit our worship services and to see that their visit is acknowledged and
responded to promptly.
Medical Missions Trip
We recommend that the
Missions Support Ministry Team give consideration to a Medical Missions Trip to
give our members in the healthcare professions an opportunity to use their
training in trans-cultural ministry.
We recommend that a
Follow-Through Team be formed to see that the above recommendations are acted
upon and that adjustments are made to the recommended strategies, as
We recommend that this
team be composed of the leaders (or someone whom they may appoint) from the
Evangelism Ministry Team, the Teaching Ministry Leadership Team, the Missions
Support Leadership Team, the Prayer Ministry Team, the Stewardship Committee,
and the Deacons. The Stewardship Committee shall be represented because of the
need to budget for ministry. This will
place those who will implement the Ministry Plan in charge of setting the Goals
and Objectives that they themselves will carry out. It will free the Forward Vision Team to focus on building needs.
We recommend that this
team begin to function on January 1, 2002 and report every church conference
throughout the year. They shall be
responsible to produce Action Plans with goals and objectives by May 5.
As We Move to Work on the Master Site Plan…
We have secured a
topographical map of the new property.
We have selected the architecture department of Lifeway to develop the
Master Site Plan. They are scheduled
for an on-site visit April 15-16; however it is possible that date could be
moved to some time in March. By
February 28, we will announce the architectural firm for the construction
We have toured the
facilities of the Taylor Road Baptist Church and of the First Baptist Church of
Prattville. We will tour the facilities
of more churches at the first of the year.
On January 18, the entire Forward Team will be attending the Church
Building Training conference sponsored by the State Board of Missions.
The Forward Vision Team
has been charged by the deacons on behalf of the church to provide quality
facilities. We will both want and seek
the congregation’s input concerning building needs. We would like to stress that ministry should not be sacrificed in
order to build. The facilities exist
only as a tool for ministry and new buildings will not be needed if there is
not the ministry to fill them up.
Expanded ministry, as well as space, will be required for us to move to
the next level.