Lake Martin Baptist sees remarkable growthcomment (0)
August 7, 2014
By Anna Keller
In the year that Mark Gainey has been pastor of Lake Martin Baptist Church, Dadeville, the church has acquired 73 new members — 25 of which became members by baptism. They’ve been able to attract young families that the church has been trying to reach and have grown their weekly attendance from 80–90 each week to about 140 every Sunday.
Gainey credits this remarkable growth solely to God’s timing.
“We specifically set up ways to reach out to young families, but they were all things I’d done before in other places without experiencing this kind of growth,” Gainey said. “It’s clear that God was ready to have an awakening in our community. No method can bring the success we’ve had — it has to be God.”
The thing Gainey attributes to most of the church’s growth is its genuine ability to show love — love to fellow members, love to visitors and love to the community.
“I have been in churches my whole life and I’ve never been in a church this loving,” he said. “I’ve been in welcoming and friendly churches but not a place with this kind of love.”
When Gainey came on board, the church’s motto was “Touching Lives with Love,” but he challenged the church to go a step further and evolve the motto into “Disciples Who Love God and Love People,” since he knew that was a true strength of the church.
Angel Freeman and her family attended the same church for years, but when their pastor left they wanted to find a new church closer to home. The Freemans joined Lake Martin Baptist earlier this summer and feel like they’ve found an amazing church home.
“We visited [Lake Martin] and fell in love instantly,” Freeman recalled. “They’re such a welcoming church. They’re always hugging your neck, asking how you’re doing and what they can do to help you.”
Freeman said she also has appreciated the church’s ability to ask for help where they need it. She’s been at churches before that have been hesitant to request members to volunteer for various things and as a result a handful of people end up doing just about everything around the church. The same is not true at Lake Martin Baptist, Freeman said, and Gainey noted that’s a purposeful thing.
“People want to belong and to live for a purpose greater than themselves,” he said. “Our goal is making sure every single member serves. We say that all the time at our church: ‘Nobody gets to sit back and watch.’ Right when people join, we ask them, ‘Where are you going to serve?’”
According to longtime Lake Martin Baptist member and associate pastor/minister of music Terry Herron, the church has always done a good job of reaching out to the community, but bringing on Gainey (who’s a young pastor) has infused new energy into the church.
“There’s such an air of excitement,” Herron said. “We have people coming back to church who’d dropped out for a while, and our older members are very excited about the growth trend in our church as far as young people, youth and children go.”
Amid such significant growth — and especially since a third of the new members also are new Christians — Gainey is making a point to set up ways to ensure members continue to mature in their faith. The church just launched a community group program (discipleship groups that meet in members’ homes) as well as mentorship programs where more mature Christians can help reach out to some of those newer to their faith.
“What I don’t want to do is have a church that continues to grow and not nurture our members,” he said.