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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

FBC Talladega’s ‘40 Days’ kickoff ‘phenomenal’comment (0)

November 10, 2005

By Leigh Pritchett


The tailgate party and the pickup football game looked pretty normal for an October Saturday in Alabama.
   
Or, at least, it would have drawn little attention, had it been going on at a home or outside a stadium.
   
But this one was right on the lawn of First Baptist Church, Talladega.
   
The big tent, smaller tents, children playing football, people in the colors of various teams and the aroma of typical tailgate fare drew the attention of passers-by and people in the community, which is just what the event organizers wanted.
   
The Oct. 8 tailgate party kicked off the church’s “40 Days of Purpose” emphasis. First, Talladega, is one of 70 Alabama churches currently participating in fall campaigns for “40 Days of Purpose,” according to Purpose Driven Ministries.
   
About 450 attended the tailgate party, according to Robert Paul, pastor of First, Talladega. A large number of those were guests.
   
Following the outdoor aspects of the event, the group moved to the sanctuary to view the initial “40 Days of Purpose” video by study author Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
   
Bryan Townsend, co-director of the committee that helped coordinate the “40 Days” endeavor, said the sanctuary was full. He called the attendance “phenomenal” for a Saturday afternoon.
   
“There was a good many visitors there from the community,” some of whom aren’t involved in church, Townsend said.
   
Mary Chappell, special events coordinator for the campaign, said the kickoff theme was chosen to spark curiosity, make the gathering community friendly and, ultimately, lead to worship in an environment that would be comfortable  for people who may not be involved in a church.
   
She said these 40 days are a time for her to “be aware of God’s purpose for my life and make sure I am in His will.”
   
In preparation for the “40 Days” emphasis, Paul said, “we created 17 new Sunday School classes.” Though they were organized with this special study in mind, it is his hope that the classes continue after the emphasis ends Nov. 20.
   
Already the church is seeing growth resulting from the “40 Days” emphasis.
   
Before the endeavor began, First, Talladega, had an average Sunday School attendance of 300, Paul said. But just since the study began, “our Sunday School enrollment increased from 574 to 624. Our Sunday School attendance [Oct. 16] was about 335.”
   
In addition, this special emphasis created an opportunity to make a few changes in the worship services.
   
Paul explained that the church had traditional services before the kickoff but has since begun to move toward a more “blended” style. 
   
Projection equipment is used to show the words to praise and worship songs, and a teen band sometimes accompanies during the morning service.
   
George Montgomery, a member of First, Talladega, believes the study is “re-energizing” the church for “reaching out beyond our walls.”
   
Paul believes the “40 Days” emphasis will help members “gain a renewed sense of purpose, spiritual vitality and a renewed call to minister to this community and the world.”

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