Published November 24, 2005
Maybe I am misunderstanding the meaning of all I am reading in the Index that centers around the article, "Stained Glass and Starbucks." It seems to me that you are implying that if your church is not contemporary in its style of worship, then it can't reach people with the Gospel and the church won't grow. If that is what is being implied in the article mentioned above, and in many of the recent letters to the editor, then I really resent that.
My congregation is a rural church located 45 miles east of Atlanta near Rutledge. We are the Centennial Baptist Church in the Morgan County Baptist Association. Like the First Baptist Church of Social Circle, we're an old established church, but God is blessing and we are a long way from being dead.
For the past three years we have baptized about 220 new converts. Our Sunday School has been among the top 25 fastest-growing Sunday Schools in Georgia in the medium church category for the last 5 or 6 years.
Each week we're averaging more than 400 in Sunday School and more than 500 in our two morning services (both traditional), and about half of our attendees return for the Sunday evening worship service.
On Wednesday night we are averaging around 300 in all the activities that we offer. We're in our 9th semester of Faith Evangelism Strategy training, which has been a vital part of the continuing growth of our church. We've led our association in gifts to the Cooperative Program for many years. We designate 20% of our budget for missions and give a lot in special offerings that fund our annual mission trips to Jamaica and West Virginia.
In addition, we are paying off a new worship center that we moved into four years ago. We have filled this new building up and have recently had to add another morning worship service.
Please don't misunderstand me here. There is much more that we can be doing and we are constantly striving to improve our existing ministries and praying about new ministries so that we can reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Neither am I bragging about anything that we have done. We give God all the glory and praise Him for the sweet spirit of love and unity that we enjoy as we serve God together. I just get tired of so many people thinking that the only way you can reach people and grow is by having a praise team and using a contemporary style of worship.
I truly believe that God desires for us to worship Him, but that is not the main reason He left us here on this earth. We will have all of eternity to praise Him. He wants us to finish the work that He started and carry out the Great Commission of telling people about Jesus. Then we can bring them into the church and disciple them so they, in turn, can go out and win others.
You just can't beat the old hymns and the messages they convey. We do sing some choruses along with the hymns, but our minister of music, Donnie Compton, and our exciting 60-voice choir add so much to our services and truly prepare our hearts to receive what God has for us each week.
I have been the pastor here for 25 years and I praise God for what we are experiencing here at Centennial.
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