1. Overview. In a nutshell, tell us about your church. What was it like when you came? What is happening now?
Beulah Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA is the most loving church I’ve ever encountered. It has a strong heritage built on a conservative theology and a loving atmosphere. When I came to Beulah in January of 2006, I inherited a church of strong leaders grounded on the Word of God. They averaged 300 in Sunday School and 350 in worship, but these were exclusively times of Bible studies. The Beulah people were very faithful inmissions giving, but had never participated in a mission trip.
Five years later, major focus is on fulfilling the purpose of the entire church through the small groups. Four major purposes, loving others, investigating God’s Word, fellowshipping with the body, and evangelism are all represented in the name of Beulah’s small group ministry, L.I.F.E. Groups. The conservative message has remained the same, but many leaders have risen up to mobilize the message. We now average 425 in SundaySchool, and have over 100 people (25% of small groups) participating in short-term missions around the world.
2. Victories. What were 2 or 3 real moments of victory for you?
#1 Our oldest senior adult ladies class (20-25) willingly moved from their comfortable room in the education building into a temporary SS room that was a converted workout room. Equipment was pushed to one side of the room, and a curtain was hung for appearance. 5 years later, they are still there, and I have never heard one complaint.
#2 Our L.I.F.E. Groups seemed to really begin getting it about one year ago. In aneffort to better fulfill their purpose through small groups, many began working more closely with other ministries in our church such as Celebrate Recovery and F.A.I.T.H. Riders to discover ministry opportunities. We have groups that have gone on a mission trip together, participated in local mission efforts as agroup, and prepared and served the food for our recovery ministry. That hasbeen exciting. Like Alan Taylor says, it’s the church fulfilling its purpose in bite-sized pieces (small groups).
#3 The hiring of our Education Director, Julie Hanes, was instrumental in our mostrecent surge in attendance. She has been efficient in her labor, while consistent in her plan. Her combination of individual creativity and acknowledgement of pastoral leadership have proven to be the perfect characteristics for the job.
3. Failures. We learn from these. Tell us what didn’t work.
I don’t really consider these failures, just lessons learned. Failure can truly only happen when we do nothing or give less than our best.
#1 Power of 10 – Our people did not embrace this GBC evangelism idea like we hoped they would.
#2 Singles – We have been on a roller coaster with young adults.
#3 Language Groups – We have experimented with this idea, and have not given up yet. We started a Spanish only LIFE Group, but people were too intimidated to come to the property. So one of our Spanish speaking couples started a group in their home, and have plans to transition them into an on-campus site. They are running 7 in weekly bible study.
4. Learnings. What have been some of your big ones? What you have learned along the way?
-Small groups must be inseparably connected to the purpose of the church.
-Make small groups the means of the mission.
-Only listen to advice from those who are where you desire to be.
-Everything rides on unity and vision.
5. What most pastors need to know? What are the take always? What can we learn from your story?
-Sell the purpose before you purchase the change, or you’ll be bankrupt.
-People will accept the cost if the cause is communicated.
Beulah Baptist Church