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School's in for summer, and beyond

 

It takes more than a pastor to grow a Sunday school.

Mike Barnes, pastor of Rehoboth in Luthersville, refuses to accept the credit for his church being named the fastest growing Sunday School among intermediate-sized churches in Georgia. It takes a lot of good leaders, he insists.

“We’re just a little old country church that the Lord has blessed,” he explains. “I’ve been able to talk with [Georgia Baptist Convention Vice President for Evangelism] Steve Parr and sit under teaching from [SBC President] Bobby Welch and others. Listening to those guys I realized we’ve been doing everything wrong.”

Barnes became pastor of the fledgling church in November 2003. Five months later it had grown to about 20 members.

At the beginning of 2009, average worship attendance topped 250 and the church went to two worship services and two Sunday School sessions. Average Sunday School attendance is currently 140 and that’s in a town with a population of less than 1,000 people.

Each year the staff of Sunday School and Open Group Ministries work with GBC Research Services to determine the fastest growing Sunday School and small group ministries in Georgia. Churches are evaluated over a three-year period for growth in enrollment, average attendance, and number of baptisms. Baptisms are important in order to insure that churches are growing as a result of effective evangelism rather than transfer growth from other churches, says Parr.

“More than half of my Sunday School leaders are new converts since we’ve been in the church. They’re on fire,” Barnes said. “God put people who have a heart for evangelism in this church and that’s how we’ve grown Sunday School.”

Last year the church topped its category in baptisms. While evangelism is still the key to growing a Sunday School, Barnes says he’s working with his leaders to take steps to make the Sunday School even more effective.

He expects to be moving to the next level – medium sized churches – soon.

“I told my church we were the fastest growing Sunday School in the state of Georgia. I encouraged them and told them congratulations,” he said. “But if we’re the fastest growing Sunday School, the state of Georgia has fallen short.”

 

Small churches (less than 100 average Sunday School attendance)

  Top 25

City

Pastor

Association

  01

Providence Bapt

Whigham

Chad Cooper

Grady County

  02

East Griffin Bapt

Griffin

C. Killingsworth

Flint River

  03

Antioch Bapt

Pineview

Kelly Pritchett

Pulaski-Bleckley

  04

Bethel Bapt

Milner

Swayne Poole

Flint River

  05

Pathway Bapt

Chattanooga

Mark Smith

Catoosa County

  06

Emit Grove Bapt

Statesboro

T. Huffingham

Ogeechee River

  07

Mission Glen Bapt

Rossville

R.V. Wells

Northwest Georgia

  08

Bapt Church at Ebenezer

Rincon

Eric Hayes

Savannah

  09

Iglesia Bautista Bele’n

Norcross

Carlos Salaverria

Gwinnett Metro

  10

Indian Creek Bapt

Carnesville

Bill Stacey

Tugalo

  11

Reedy Creek Bapt

Stapleton

John Jenkins

Kilpatrick

  12

West Union Bapt

Calhoun

Jerry Brooks

Gordon Memorial

  13

Maple Grove Bapt

Dalton

Tony Robertson

North Georgia

  14

Meansville Bapt

Meansville

Allen Newman

Centennial

  15

Indian Creek Bapt

Stone Mt

 

Stone Mountain

  16

Second Bapt of Jackson

Jackson

John Davis

Kimbell

  17

Midville Bapt

Midville

Scott McKinney

Hephzibah

  18

Calvary Bapt

Covington

Alan Thompson

Stone Mountain

  19

S Haven Bapt

Hephzibah

M. Rochester

Augusta

  20

New Providence Bapt

Smarr

Brian Moore

Mid-State

  21

White Oak First Bapt

Newnan

Tim Hammett

Western

  22

Calvary Bapt

Waycross

Bob Richardson

Piedmont-Okefenokee

  23

Glade Road Bapt

Acworth

Scott Crowder

Bartow

  24

Brewton Bapt

Dublin

 

Laurens

  25

Riverside Bapt

Savannah

Bill Black

Savannah

 

Intermediate churches (100-199 average Sunday School attendance)

  Top 25

City

Pastor

Association

  01

Rehoboth Bapt

Luthersville

Mike Barnes

Western

  02

Open Door Bapt

Adel

Gary James

Valdosta

  03

Rehobeth Bapt

Blackshear

 

Piedmont-Okefenokee

  04

Union Bapt

Griffin

T. Conort

Flint River

  05

Northside Bapt

Newnan

Brian Carroll

Western

  06

First Bapt Butler

Butler

Eddie Wren

Friendship

  07

First Bapt Lake Park

Lake Park

Robert Dawson

Valdosta

  08

Liberty Bapt

Dublin

Chris Dixon

Laurens

  09

Southside Bapt

Lakeland

A. DeLoach, Jr.

Valdosta

  10

Kinchafoonee Bapt

Leesburg

Melvin Slappy

Mallary

  11

Hickox Bapt

Nahunta

W. McMillan

Piedmont-Okefenokee

  12

First Bapt Doerun

Doerun

David Benton

Colquitt County

  13

Friendship Bapt Chapel

 

Eatonton

Central

  14

Milstead Bapt

Conyers

Doug Craver

Stone Mountain

  15

Northside Bapt

Centerville

Loy Ballard

Rehoboth

  16

Elizabeth Bapt

Marietta

Steve Echols

Noonday

  17

Mills Chapel Bapt

Newnan

Jeff Smith

Western

  18

Deenwood Bapt

Waycross

Clay Thomas

Piedmont-Okefenokee

  19

Houston Lake Bapt

Perry

Fred McCoy

Rehoboth

  20

Cherokee Bapt

Woodstock

Kevin Edmonds

Etowah

  21

Crossview Bapt

Fitzgerald

Barry Gordon

Ben Hill-Irwin

  22

Mountain Zion Bapt

Columbus

Jeff Merritt

Columbus

  23

Altamaha Bapt

Baxley

C. Hutcheson

Consolation

  24

Toccoa Creek Bapt

Toccoa

V. Dorminey

Tugalo

  25

Mountain Vernon Bapt

Baxley

Darrell Quinn

Consolation

 

Medium churches (200-399 average Sunday School attendance)

  Top 25

City

Pastor

Association

  01

Foothills Community

Marble Hill

John Reale

Etowah

  02

Plst Grv, Pl of Hope, Inc.

Bowman

C. Pritchett

Hebron

  03

Fort Creek Bapt

Dearing

Phil Bray

Kilpatrick

  04

Eastern Heights Bapt

Statesboro

Harry Sherrer

Ogeechee River

  05

Cross Point Bapt

Perry

Jeremy Morton

Rehoboth

  06

First Bapt Colquitt

Colquitt

C.E. Marshall

Bowen

  07

Grace Fell of S Forsyth

Cumming

K. Hosner, D. Miller

Lanier

  08

New Town Bapt

Calhoun

 

Gordon Memorial

  09

First Bapt Jasper

Jasper

Jimmy Lewis

Etowah

  10

Plst Valley N Bapt

Rome

Mac McCurry

Floyd County

  11

Altamaha Bapt

Jesup

Daniel Lee

Altamaha

  12

Mt. Olive Bapt

Moultrie

Andy Cashwell

Colquitt County

  13

Beulah Bapt

Douglasville

Wayne Bray

West Metro

  14

Pleasant Hill Bapt

Gainesville

Gerald Atkins

Chattahoochee

  15

Oakland Bapt

Hazlehurst

Royce Hulett

Consolation

  16

Poplar Spr N Bapt

Dublin

Joe Slocum

Laurens

  17

Fletcher Mem Bapt

Statesboro

Ron Andrew

Ogeechee River

  18

Reedy Branch Bapt

Broxton

Dennis Weniger

Smyrna

  19

First Bapt Cornelia

Cornelia

David Turner

Habersham County

  20

Trinity Bapt

Calhoun

Eddie Brannon

Gordon Memorial

  21

Sugarloaf Korea, Inc

Suwanee

Bong Choi

Atl Assn of So Bapt

  22

Crossroads, Walton Cnty

Monroe

Michael Keaton

Stone Mountain

  23

Oakland Bapt

Warner Robins

Thomas Barnard

Rehoboth

  24

Prince Ave Hisp Mission

Bogart

Carlos Baca

Sarepta

  25

Sweat Memorial

Waycross

Freddie Smith

Piedmont-Okefenokee

 

Large churches (400 plus in average Sunday School attendance)

  Top 25

City

Pastor

Association

  01

Rock Bdge Com

Dalton

Matt Evans

North Georgia

  02

Midway Macedonia

Villa Rica

Todd Wright

Carrollton

  03

Maysville Bapt

Maysville

Brian Stowe

Sarepta

  04

Peavine Bapt

Rock Spring

S. Anthony

NW Georgia

  05

West Cobb Bapt

Marietta

K. Williams

Noonday

  06

First Redeemer

Cumming

Richard Lee

Lanier

  07

Hopewell Bapt

Gainesville

Robert Foster

Chattahoochee

  08

Ephesus Bapt

Winston

Billy Godwin

West Metro

  09

Harps Crossing Bapt

Fayetteville

Dennis Watson

South Metro

  10

Holly Creek Bapt

Chatsworth

Danny Cochran

Murray County

  11

Ingleside Bapt

Macon

Timothy McCoy

Mid-State

  12

First Bapt Locust Gr

Locust Grove

Craig Bowers

Henry

  13

First Bapt Tifton

Tifton

Wayne Roe

Mell

  14

Burnt Hickory

Powder Spr

M. Stephens

Noonday

  15

First Bapt Columbus

Columbus

James Elder

Columbus

  16

Ebenezer Bapt

Toccoa

Andy Childs

Tugalo

  17

Second Bapt

Warner Robins

Jeff LaBorg

Rehoboth

  18

First Bapt Barnesville

Barnesville

Garth Foster

Centennial

  19

Beech Haven Bapt

Athens

Stewart Simms

Sarepta

  20

Central Bapt

Americus

Hugh DeLoach

Friendship

  21

First Bapt Sandersville

Sandersville

Lee Lacey

Washington

  22

Glen Haven Bapt

McDonough

R. Easterwood

Henry

  23

Anchor Church

Grayson

Steve Hammack

Gwinnett Metro

  24

First Bapt Blackshear

Blackshear

Bill Young

Piedmont-Okefenokee

  25

Shadowbrook Bapt

Suwanee

Bobby Linkous

Gwinnett Metro