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Phenix City church grows by ‘not doing anything’comment (0)

January 11, 2007



For Golden Acres Baptist Church, Phenix City, the past 10 years have brought unprecedented growth and change.

The Russell Baptist Association church, which began in 1945 with only 26 members, now numbers 1,867.

Along with a growing staff, Golden Acres Baptist has expanded its building and its usage of the property to keep up.

According to Gina Harper, minister of church administration and finance, the changes began in 1997 when a ministry team was assembled to implement new programs and rejuvenate old ones.

By 2001, the church had added 740 new members, and that year’s 128 baptisms saw it ranked ninth in baptisms among the state’s Southern Baptist churches.

The growing membership called for a new facility, so in 2003, Golden Acres moved into a 29,000-square-foot facility under the leadership of its new pastor, Ray Cummings.

It filled the sanctuary and educational building to capacity within a month, but church leaders wanted to grow without incurring more building debt.

They developed a plan to utilize the building on other days of the week, including a Saturday night service, and to expand worship and Bible study offerings on Sundays.

"It’s been great," Cummings said. "We expect big things because we have a great God."

One of those big things is coming to fruition even now, he noted.

The church’s mission statement is "Passion driven, purpose defined, people directed." While the first two were happening during the weekly services and Bible study groups, the church was lacking in being people directed, Cummings said.

So Golden Acres decided to revamp its Wednesday night services to provide a more hands-on approach to evangelistic outreach for its members.

Instead of using Monday night to do visitation, church members meet on Wednesday evening for a short Bible study and then either go out in teams to visit or stay at the church to write letters or make calls to check on those who have missed three weeks in a row.

Cummings said within the first three weeks of beginning the new system, Bible study attendance on Saturday and Sunday increased by 100 people.

"I felt like we were [spiritually] feeding (church members) a lot but we were never letting them exercise their faith," he said. But now "[i]t’s like they’re coming off of a missions trip every week."

Cummings noted that church members are often asked what Golden Acres is doing to cause so much growth, and the answer is "We’re not doing anything."

"We’re real big on the fact that we can’t do anything that lasts for very long on our own," he said. "If God does it, it will last forever." (TAB)

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