40 Days of Purpose radically changes churchescomment (0)
October 7, 2004
By Kima Jude
After conducting 40 Days of Purpose campaigns, churches reported making changes, sometimes radical, in their approach to ministry.
First Baptist Church, Headland, conducted its 40 Days of Purpose campaign in fall 2003. Already familiar with purpose-driven philosophy through previous Purpose-Driven Church emphases, the church subsequently implemented a stewardship emphasis.
“Last year at this time we were $30,000 behind budget,” said Mike Wehner, pastor of administration and education. “This year we’re $40,000 ahead.”
After being “bottlenecked in our worship” and plateaued for 25 years because of physical space limitations, according to Wehner, the church appears to be spiritually poised to take steps toward long-range plans, including a $3.2 million worship center. “I think the 40 Days of Purpose was where we began to pick up again as a church.”
Dalraida Baptist Church, Montgomery, gained seven small groups in Sunday School and another two home groups following its 40 Days campaign. It also experienced a marked increase in worship attendance, surpassing Sunday School for the first time in his experience, according to Pastor Rick Evans. Evans cited changes in worship format, including use of audio-visual equipment, creation of a praise team and new leanings toward contemporary music.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, Evans dismissed his congregation that Sunday night to physically attend to the needs of their community through missions ministry. The cleanup was met with overwhelming response. “I don’t think that would have happened prior to them understanding the purposes of God.”
John Davis, church administrator for Hillsboro Heights Baptist Church, Huntsville, said the 40 Days campaign helped unify the congregation. “Sometimes it’s hard to measure on a measuring stick, but I can tell the unity of a church family because of the way they care for each other.”
Davis said adopting the mind-set that each member is a minister was particularly important because Hillsboro Heights is without a senior pastor and located in a transitional community. For example, the church had dropped its outreach and visitation program. “We realized because we don’t have a pastor is no excuse for not continuing our FAITH outreach.”
Since the 40 Days campaign, the witness-training program has been re-implemented. “If our church is going to stay vibrant and alive we’ve got to do things to reach into our community.”
The 40 Days campaign had a dramatic impact on Calvary Baptist Church, Dothan, according to Pastor Stan Gauthe. The church conducted the campaign last fall, using the small group method.
It rented an elementary school and used 18 rooms, resulting in a record attendance averaging 1,200 a session. More than 1,400 attended the celebration service. “Our people came and got excited. It spread, and we had an influence on other churches.”
Gauthe, who has been at the church for 16 years, cited other factors that influenced the effectiveness of the campaign, including prayer and a six-year growth spurt that the church has been experiencing.
But Gauthe attributes the 40 Days campaign with effecting successes: A record number of people accepted Christ during that fall FAITH semester; almost 1,000 people got involved in Vacation Bible School — up from 650 the previous year; and the church began a new partnership with a local black congregation.
Bruce Ward, co-pastor of CrossPoint Community Church, Gadsden, described the 40 Days campaign as “a breath of fresh air to our congregation.”
The church determined to employ purpose-driven principles as it relocated five years ago. “As we began to do church in our new location we wanted to be a purpose-driven church.”
Some of the changes were fundamental ones. “We budget on purpose,” said Ward. Every budget item is reviewed under the criteria of the five purposes of the church.
“We preach on purpose. We do Sunday School on purpose. We ask ourselves: Why are we doing this?” They also made other changes, such as switching from traditional to blended worship style.
The results have been dramatic. In five years the church went from 439 in worship to more than 1,500. “I think the biggest reason for that is we’re doing things on purpose,” he said. “I can’t say enough about being a purpose-driven church or a purpose-driven Christian.”