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Small church experiences exponential growthcomment (0)

September 9, 2010

By Emily Flack

Beaver Creek Baptist Church, Phenix City, has come a long way since a group of 28 began meeting with Bibles and folding chairs at the clubhouse of a shutdown golf course in 2004.

Poised for growth with the wide expanse of golf course property, the Russell Baptist Association church built its first chapel there four years ago and over time, purchased outright five, then 10 and finally 15 acres of land from the golf course where it all began.

After all, the continuously expanding church body requires a continuously expanding church building. Ground was broken for the new addition — which houses the sanctuary, Sunday School classrooms, offices and a larger youth center — in October 2009, and the building is expected to be fully functional in a few months.

“Expansion has happened so quickly. We have baptized 82 people in the last 14 months in a congregation just under 200 people,” said Pastor Barry Fleming, who came to Beaver Creek Baptist in May 2009 after former Pastor Jack Kinley retired.

In fact, two people were saved Aug. 18 in Wednesday night Bible study and will be baptized this month.

A majority of the baptisms were the result of first-time decisions, Fleming said.

He attributes the growth to a few notable things, such as faithfulness to exercise church discipline, obedience in giving and the 20-20 Vision Committee. The committee sets the 10-year, five-year and one-year plans for the church, which focus on outreach.

Wayne Burns, director of missions for Russell Association, singled out the vision committee’s work as well.

“The strongest aspect of Beaver Creek is their emphasis on and willingness to reach out to their neighbors,” he said.

The outreach and visitation team canvasses the neighborhood each Monday evening, retrieving addresses of those who will receive handwritten letters containing a personal invite to church.

“Countless people visit (the church) just because they’ve gotten letters that we’ve sent. Then they say that they’ve never been to a church where they felt so much love,” charter member and deacon James Sanders said.

Phone calls also are used to make contact with the lost or lonely.

“People just want to hear the truth,” Fleming said of evangelizing the unchurched.

And once they’ve accepted that truth, Beaver Creek puts them to work living out the love they’ve found.

Ashley Adams, a high school senior, was saved at the winter youth camp and now assists with Awana and children’s church and volunteers in the nursery when needed.

“It was the youth pastor that taught me to pursue my dreams, especially within the church, to find a role that I am good at and be active in that role,” she said of Brady Butler.

The changes to the church building are opening up new avenues for service. For instance, a stage will be built in the new youth center so Butler and music go-to-guy and youth leader Jeff Brown can teach teenagers to play instruments for the sake of learning to lead worship.

Since the winter youth camp, there have been two salvation decisions, several rededications and five baptisms among the youth.

“Numbers are not important,” Fleming said. “But every number in church hopefully identifies a soul that will escape hell.”

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