Published July 26, 2012
TUCKER — On Sunday, June 3, Rehoboth Baptist Church installed Dr. Troy Bush as senior pastor. While he has already assumed the pastorate of the Tucker church, Bush also has the distinct responsibility of pastoring a church hosting ten other congregations on its campus.
In fact, a new era is unfolding at Rehoboth that may well become the standard for church reorganization, ethnic ministries, evangelism, missions, and church planting.
Bush stated, “I believe this church is situated in an amazing area. This is a new day for Rehoboth and a fresh wind is blowing across our people. If we fill our building, big deal! That is not even a drop in the bucket when you think of the need in this metropolis. We want to equip our people to take the Gospel to the workplace and the communities where they live.
“When you begin to think of Atlanta’s influence globally you will have to agree this is a great place to serve.”
Rehoboth’s new pastor is a graduate of the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Mid-America Seminary in Cordova, TN, and has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Christian Missions from Southern Seminary.
Bush has served as pastor of two churches in Arkansas and is the co-founder of International Church Planters, a ministry in which he coordinated over 300 SBC mission volunteers in projects in six countries and started more than 100 new churches.
After receiving his Ph.D. in missions, Dr. Bush, his wife Tina, and their children JD, Caleb, and Sarah moved to Moscow, Russia, where they served with the IMB for five years.
Upon returning to the U.S., Bush became the minister of evangelism and missions at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL for three years. He then accepted a two-year assignment with NAMB as director of church starting for Embrace Baltimore (MD), where he oversaw an effort that launched 14 new churches.
After his assignment in Baltimore, Bush served on the staff at Cross Pointe Church in Duluth and then as Rehoboth’s part-time church administrator before being called as senior pastor. He also continues to serve as a part-time assistant professor of Urban Ministry and Missions at Southern Seminary in Louisville.
John Brown, who has been a member of Rehoboth for many years, compared his new pastor to former pastor Lester Buice, who provided extraordinary leadership for the Tucker church for 35 years until his retirement in 1982.
Brown commented, “I am excited about the future possibilities for Rehoboth. For the past few years we as a church lost our identity and we no longer had the impact or influence we once had for Christ. I think all of us as members share the responsibility for that decline.”
Brown continued, “I spent some time with Pastor Troy before he was called as pastor. We discussed his vision for our church. He likes our location. He is excited about our recreation program, the church’s evangelism history, and the many opportunities we have to minister in our community. I believe Lester Buice would have loved Pastor Troy.”
Johnny Carter has been a member of Rehoboth for a long time and is enthused about the decision to reorganize/relaunch the church, believing it will result in a steady, healthy growth pattern.
Carter has chosen to go to the Catalyst (contemporary) worship service at the church, because he wants to support and encourage the younger generation. He commented, “As Christians we must stay away from the ‘us and them’ mentality and focus on unity in Christ for the people of both our catalyst and traditional worship services.”
James White, another one of Rehoboth’s lay leaders, explained, “We believe that the Lord has sent Pastor Troy Bush to our church at this time to lead us in a totally new direction than any other we have experienced in the past.
“We believe that his considerable experience and background in local and foreign missions will assist us in reaching out to the community more fully. We also are realizing that based on his vast knowledge and experience in teaching the Word of God at Southern Seminary and in other places, he can bless our congregation with insights and understanding in the Bible that we need to live out our calling for Christ.”
While the installation service for Bush on June 3 was significant, the church’s vote to call him as senior pastor on April 22 was even more so, because a larger issue accompanied that vote. In calling the pastor the church also voted to reorganize and re-launch its ministries in north Atlanta.
Larry Wynn, vice president for Evangelism at NAMB, served Rehoboth Church as transitional pastor, and together with Bush, they developed a strategic plan for the church’s future.
Key details of the plan include: (1) a renewed vision to reach its community; (2) adopting a “whatever it takes” attitude toward returning Rehoboth to be a great, Gospel-centered church in Atlanta, (3) coming under the watchcare of First Baptist Woodstock, establishing a strategic partnership with Pastor Johnny Hunt and the Woodstock church with Rehoboth retaining its autonomy; (4) the establishment of a Relaunch Advisory Team comprised of Rehoboth and First Baptist Woodstock leaders with Bush being the team leader, (5) developing and executing a robust evangelistic relaunch of Rehoboth Baptist Church, and (6) mobilizing church partners and mission volunteer teams to come to the community and assist Rehoboth with community outreach and evangelism.
Wynn reasoned, “Rehoboth has a great history. The willingness of the Rehoboth church family to adopt a revitalization strategy also gives the church a bright future. Calling Troy Bush as pastor and inviting Woodstock First Baptist to adopt them for a period of time will bring renewed vision and energy to this great church.”
The Rehoboth church members welcomed the partnership with First Baptist in Woodstock. Brown exclaimed, “We are very grateful for Woodstock’s offer to help with the relaunch of our ministry. God has blessed their efforts with other churches and I am sure He will bless this effort also.”
White added, “I believe the future is brighter for our church than it has been in some time. Obviously, we are excited and anxious to move forward in the direction the Lord wants us to go just as soon as possible.”
Back from decline
In the early 1990s Rehoboth was one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1993 the church’s Sunday School attendance reached an all-time high of 2,875 and the church baptized more than 1,000 every year for a decade.
However for almost two decades now the church has been in decline and in recent years the financial challenges have been significant. The church has found it difficult to fund a comprehensive ministry plan and maintain their 230,000-square-foot facility and expansive sports complex.
The creativity and visionary leadership of both Wynn during the interim and Bush during the transition and going forward bode will for the church’s future.
Bush stated, “The church leadership liked the idea of a strategic analysis and demonstrated a willingness to do whatever was best for the Kingdom.
“Four options were considered. First, we considered the possibility of selling the property and disbanding the church. Secondly, we discussed the possibility of merging with Peace Baptist Church, a wonderful predominately African American congregation already meeting on our campus.
“Thirdly, we considered the option of a church revitalization, but some of the members indicated that the church had already attempted to do that in recent years without significant success.
“The final option to reorganize and relaunch the church in partnership with First Baptist Woodstock was heartily approved by the leadership, adopted by the church and is now being implemented to the delight of the Rehoboth membership.”
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