Published February 5, 2015
CLERMONT — Concord Baptist Church in Clermont, with an average attendance of 641 in Bible study each week, had the third-fastest growing Sunday School in the Large Church category last year. And with a 32.2% growth in worship attendance in five years there are more people in the church on Sunday morning than live in Clermont.
The town of Clermont has a population of 875 and a total land area of only 1 square mile. The quaint little community is tucked away in Hall County between Gainesville and Cleveland.
The church is experiencing appreciable growth because Pastor Levi Skipper is thinking regionally and the church is drawing members from a five-county area.
Skipper says, “Mission is what you’re doing and vision is where you’re going.”
The 37-year-old pastor explained, “Our mission is to make disciples everywhere; and our vision is what we are calling a 777 vision. We want to plant seven satellite campuses in our area and to be involved in seven countries through international mission opportunities over the next seven years.”
The pastor’s vision came about through much prayer and a considerable amount of research and demographic studies. The first of the seven additional campus starts was launched on Jan. 11 at Mount Yonah Elementary School in Cleveland. Sixty-two adults and their children agreed to leave the main campus and become a part of the satellite church in Cleveland.
Skipper became pastor at Concord in November of 2011. Levi and his wife Christa have four children. He is a graduate of Shorter University and New Orleans Seminary and has a Doctorate of Ministry from Luther Rice Seminary. He admits to being passionate about reaching others with the Gospel.
Bob Horner, who now serves as interim pastor of Annistown Road Baptist Church in Snellville, stated, “Levi Skipper, in my opinion, is one of the most godly and really sharp young men I have met in a long time. His thirst for knowledge, humble spirit, and preaching skills give him the leverage to build a great church as empowered by God. He is an example of young leadership for this challenging generation we are trying to reach. I cannot wait to see what God is going to do with this strong pastor in his present church and future ministry.”
Poised for great things
James Dollar, worship pastor at Concord, works with his pastor to plan music that complements his sermons. Special events, like “Christmas at Concord” and “Sunday at the Park”, featuring the church’s choir and orchestra, have attracted literally thousands of guests through the years.
Dollar added, “God is really blessing our church and we are seeing people saved on a regular basis. We are baptizing people almost every Sunday.”
Steve Parr, who serves Georgia Baptists as vice president of Staff Coordination and Development and served as the Concord interim pastor prior to the church calling Skipper, remarked, “While I was at Concord it was evident that the church was poised for great things.
“The worship environment led by James Dollar was phenomenal. The congregation received the sermons with hunger and eagerness. The leaders desired to know all they possibly could to make the church healthier.
“The call and addition of Levi Skipper and his evangelistic zeal launched the church to great heights. It is always a blessing to see God move in the lives of a zealous congregation.”
Skipper commented, “We are really not doing anything new. We are just trying to follow simple biblical truths, relentlessly developing leaders and celebrating every victory.”
Four areas of concentration
Concord depends upon the Sunday School to champion not only the church’s Bible study, but its growth. Every class is well-organized with teachers, apprentice teachers, and inreach and outreach leaders.
There are four areas Skipper and his staff focus on: worship, reaching, growing, and serving. As a part of the growing emphasis the church is discipling people in a university atmosphere and giving degrees to those who complete the discipleship classes. For example, men can receive a Timothy Degree and ultimately be awarded a Paul Degree for faithfulness in completing a series of discipleship courses.
Chattahoochee Baptist Associational Missionary Jojo Thomas, a member of Concord, commented, “Concord is a great place to be for a lot of reasons. Wise leaders (both staff and laymen) have given it a solid foundation. The present staff understands what it means to be a team, and Levi is a gifted leader.
“Most of all, though, they are serious about the Great Commission. They are willing to stretch themselves in order to share the Gospel.”
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