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LaFayette church marks growth from intentional effortscomment (0)

April 6, 2006

By Grace Thornton

Jack Bailey’s church is growing. And it’s made him a little blue.
But the deacon chairman’s blues didn’t come from losing his pew to new members or seeing his church change from what it used to be when he accepted Christ and was baptized there as a boy.
Quite the contrary. 
Bailey’s blues came straight from a spray can with a little help from his wife, Dot. It was a new look he sported to Center Baptist Church, LaFayette, in East Liberty Baptist Association the weekend after the congregation crossed the 50 mark in Sunday School attendance.
And he was a good sport about it.
“Someone volunteered me to dye my hair if we got more than 50 in Sunday School and I agreed. Then they came to the conclusion it ought to be blue,” Bailey said. “I didn’t mind doing it. Everybody kind of enjoyed it, and it was a good conversation piece.”
Older church members thought it was funny, the teenagers thought it was “cool” and the children just giggled, he said.
But everyone was more than willing to do what it took to see Bailey teach Sunday School and sing in the choir with bright blue hair. They did the same thing for Pastor Ken Tankersley when he agreed to dye his hair red if they reached 50 on an earlier Sunday.
It’s not surprising, according to Tankersley. Center Baptist members will step up even when hair coloring isn’t involved.
“It’s all been fun and in the name of Intentional Evangelism,” Tankersley said. East Liberty Association has been pushing Intentional Evangelism, the state’s outreach push for 2005–2007, ever since it was introduced to state Baptists. A Sunday School class called “Seekers” got bitten with the bug to try creative ways of reaching their neighbors, he explained.
“We’re a small rural church, but this Sunday School class has caught on to something that’s caught on in our entire congregation,” he said.
The Seekers challenged the church to hold a Valentine’s Day banquet to which they invited members of the community and provided pizza and entertainment for their children at a separate location.
“It was fantastic. The class planned, financed and orchestrated a beautiful evening with a great meal and a great program,” Tankersley said. “We had a video presentation also of the different things going on at our church. There were some visitors there who got really excited about it.”
And the spirit of love and evangelism carried over into Sunday morning services, he added, as the banquet was the talk of the area for the days in between. Several from the community joined the church.
One of those was Sherry Hunt, who joined Center Baptist along with her husband and daughter.
“We were invited to the banquet by someone in the Sunday School class, and we talked about it afterwards and prayed about it and decided to join,” she said. “We love it. It’s been great.”
The church loves it, too, Tankersley said. “The Sunday School class’s excitement about outreach has challenged the church to see that there is work to be done. It’s helped our harmony, our fellowship and our evangelism.”
More activities are planned for outreach in the coming months, and the church is in the process of kicking off a building project to add a fellowship building.
“We’ve got a lot of potential for growth,” Bailey said. “The pastor told us if we got a hundred, he’d preach from the rooftop.”
But Tankersley told them first he’d dye his hair pink if they got 75. “They are going to have to hurry, though — I don’t have a lot of hair,” he said with a laugh.

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