Hope, health contagious at Northsidecomment (0)
March 23, 2000
By Kimberly Wine Henderson
Mark Sickmiller came to Northside Baptist Church, Calera, as pastor about three years ago new to ministry but motivated to pump up the church.
“I believe that since my God lives, His church should be alive also,” he said.
Acting on its mission statement, “From God’s word to our world,” the church began utilizing an innovative philosophy that has resulted in a healthy and growing congregation. As a result, the church experienced a 200 percent growth in Sunday School and Discipleship Training and has added more than 130 members.
Sickmiller said the church began sharing the word of God through the community, and people responded. The baptistery, which had been used for storage, was once again filled. Not only did the church see an increase in members but an improvement in the spiritual health of its congregation.
“Hope and health became contagious,” Sickmiller said. “People started seeing God work and started believing.”
As the church grew, several changes were made including adding a contemporary morning service to complement the more traditional service already offered.
“Our overriding goal in worship is to create an atmosphere that is God-centered rather than self-centered, and one that frees God’s Spirit to do anything He desires,” Sickmiller said. “This pursuit is further enhanced through God-centered music, whether some call it contemporary or traditional is not our concern, rather will it please God and bring people into His presence is our passion.”
He said new facilities that include a new sanctuary, educational space, offices and a nursery are nearing completion. Sunday School classes have expanded, and new ones have been created to meet the growing — and diversified — needs.
Northside has also initiated several new programs that have enriched the lives of participants. The programs range from “My Father’s House,” a Christian coffee house on Saturday nights which provides a Christian setting for people to fellowship, to “Growing Kids God’s Way,” a training class for parents to help them raise their children according to God’s word.
“Amidst the environment of change, people have rejoiced in the fact that our message has not changed — Christ and Him crucified,” Sickmiller said.
The members of Northside have embraced the changes, as well as internalizing some of the church’s enthusiasm for ministry.
Sickmiller describes his congregation as actively participating in a “Barnabas Ministry of Encouragement.”
“We believe that God is living and real and active in our lives,” he said. “We worship expectantly and pray expectantly and live expectantly.
“We believe wholeheartedly that the spiritual gifts along with signs and wonders have not ceased.”