Published March 5, 2015
MACON — Visiting Ingleside was like sinking your teeth into a succulent steak or spending a week at a beautiful resort. Magnificent experiences demand a return engagement.
Likewise, anyone who had a taste of Ingleside Baptist Church’s hospitality during the Georgia Baptist Convention’s annual meeting last November has probably had a hankering to return. And there are plenty of reasons at Ingleside to satisfy that urging.
Church founded in 1951
Macon’s Ingleside church, founded in 1951, is one of the state’s leading churches and has had a history of growth and effective ministry for most of its 63 years. Current pastor Tim McCoy has served the church for over 25 years of the church’s history.
Many people believe that after a few years a church begins to take on the personality of its pastor. That may explain the church’s extraordinary hospitality and friendliness. McCoy exudes warmth, graciousness, and cordiality.
In a recent interview the pastor explained that Romans 15:7 was the scripture verse he used to prepare his congregation to host the GBC in November. In that verse Paul writes, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” The church responded by extending a welcome mat that was essentially fashioned with silver and embroidered with gold.
A native of Mississippi
Lindsay Acocella, who served on the staff at Ingleside for six years, wrote a book, A Glimpse of God at Work, highlighting McCoy’s first 20 years at the church. She writes, “Tim McCoy was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on June 29, 1958, to Mr. and Mrs. Elvis McCoy.” (Don’t you let the combination of Tim’s father’s name and Tupelo conjure up any images of Old Swivel Hips.) He was the fourth of their five sons. “After graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana College in 1980, Tim attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he received both the Master of Divinity in 1983 and Doctor of Philosophy in 1989.”
Tim and his wife, Beverly, were married on March 14, 1987. The McCoys now have two grown daughters, Meredith and Molly.
McCoy has been active in denominational life throughout his ministry. He has served as First Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention (1995), as a Trustee of the International Mission Board of the SBC (1994-2001) and as Chairman of the Board (2000-2001). He was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by Southern Seminary in 2010, and in 2011 served on the Resolutions Committee of the SBC.
It doesn’t take a very lengthy conversation with the Ingleside pastor to realize that his academic credentials are well deserved and that he knows how to appropriate his considerable knowledge in his role as a pastor.
A graph of the church’s growth shows that Ingleside was constituted with 203 members in 1951 and has shown steady growth through the years to achieve a membership of more than 4,300 today. The church has experienced a net gain in membership of almost 3,000 since McCoy arrived in 1989. Worship attendance for Ingleside on Sunday morning is approximately 2,000 with their Sunday School and small group attendance slightly less than that.
Three requirements for membership
McCoy explained, “Since 1997 we have had three requirements for church membership: conversion, baptism, and completion of our membership class. The membership class helps us establish expectations and maintain unity as we add new members.
“Ingleside has also been able to maintain a demographic profile that shows more male members involved in the life of the church and more children and youth participating in our ministry than is typical of most churches. A frequently heard saying at Ingleside is: ‘We are a multigenerational church with a next generation orientation,’” McCoy added.
“What we do here is a collaborative effort of a very competent staff and a dedicated lay leadership. I see my primary responsibilities in the church as preaching and teaching, providing leadership, casting the vision I believe God would have for our church, and prayer.”
Since many churches seem to falter for lack of foresight, McCoy was asked how he derived his vision for Ingleside. He replied, “I intentionally stay in the Word of God in search of His will and the vision God has for our church. I sometimes visit other churches that are on the cutting edge of ministry to stretch my faith and understanding of how God is working in other congregations.
“At least once a year, I retreat from the daily routine of ministry to pray, fast, and focus on what God would have us do. I also seek the wisdom of our staff and lay leadership. I share my understanding of the vision with them first; and they are essential to the refining and tweaking of that vision.
“Finding God’s will is generally provided in incremental steps. When you are walking through the woods on a dark night you take a step at a time as your flashlight provides light. Vision has a lot to do with seeing what the next step is with the overarching values that never change.
“Vision develops as we take next steps into the light,” McCoy added.
Part of his vision is based on the Acts 1:8 model of missions. That means that the Ingleside pastor is not only interested in saturating his city and region with the Gospel, but also in reaching far beyond that. Therefore, in Georgia Ingleside has partnered with Pastor Matt Dye and the M28 Church, a church plant in Midtown Atlanta.
Influence beyond Jesusalem, Judea
Ingleside has also expanded its influence far beyond its Jerusalem and Judea, and provides financial assistance and mission teams to support the ministry of Renaissance Church, a church plant in Pittsburgh, PA.
McCoy explained, “We also send mission teams all over the world. Last year we offered our people the opportunity to participate in 16 different mission trips in 10 different locations. We have some of our folks engaged in some mission endeavor almost every month of the year.”
In the past seven years Ingleside had 626 of its members experience some kind of missions orientation and training. Last year the church had more than 1,000 members engaged in some kind of missions’ opportunity in their Acts 1:8 initiatives. As McCoy says, “Our people are involved here, there, and everywhere.”
The Ingleside pastor has set the example of a Great Commission Christian by serving on short-term mission trips to Belgium, Brunei, East Malaysia, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, and Singapore. Currently, McCoy is preparing for an upcoming trip to Southeast Asia where he will be teaching and encouraging many of our International Mission Board personnel who are serving in that part of the world.
Ingleside’s missions’ involvement is also undergirded by the church’s financial support. In 2014, the church gave $487,402 to missions, with $348,883 designated to the Cooperative Program.
The overall discipline of McCoy is illustrated not only in his intellectual and spiritual life, but also in his conscientiousness regarding physical fitness. He explained, “My wife, Beverly, keeps herself really fit and encourages me to do the same. So, I jog and walk and do a certain amount of weight training about four or five days a week.”
Healthy personal discipline
“Several years ago I set a goal of running five miles in 50 minutes on my fiftieth birthday and did it,” McCoy said.
Ingleside is the only church McCoy has served as senior pastor. He remarked, “The local church setting gives me the opportunity to maximize my gifts. I am prepared to remain here until the Lord says otherwise. We still have lots of work to do.”
In Acocella’s book, she quotes former membership pastor Mike Hickman who referred to McCoy as an eagle. He stated, “Not only is he an eagle, but he is always looking for eagles to bring to the team.”
Hickman added, “Tim can see what’s not there yet, and he can get you there. To see the transformation of Ingleside today from what it was in 1951 is really the most miraculous thing. I can’t think of many churches that have had that significant a transformation. And it really started with Tim’s leadership.”
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