Pastor reflects on Find It Here
    September 29 2011 by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications

    Find it Here: Embracing Christ 2011 is the second year of a three-year initiative focused on evangelism, discipleship and missions mobilization. During the 2010 emphasis, churches committed to four evangelistic activities on or prior to Easter Sunday with the intent of baptizing believers.

    Building on last year’s success, Find It Here: Embracing Christ 2011 focuses on transforming believers into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. This year’s focus includes a spring and fall emphasis. During the spring period, churches focused on the necessity of following Christ, and in the fall they are turning to the importance of abiding in Christ.

    Craig Willingham, senior pastor of Berry’s Grove Baptist Church in Timberlake, is glad his church has participated in the first two years of Find It Here. He believes it has made a difference in the lives of those under his care and of those in his community.

    “We participated in the first installment on evangelism and it was well-received by the church,” Willingham said. “We had people actively reaching out to their lost friends.”

    Eager to build on last year’s success, Willingham was excited to participate in the spring emphasis because he knew it would connect with his congregation. “I was particularly excited about the focus on discipleship because we were already putting a big emphasis on our small groups and seeing people grow,” he said. “I wanted to see more of our body become a part of that.”

    Willingham’s desire for his congregation has come to fruition. “Our church has seemed much hungrier to grow in knowledge of the Word since the spring emphasis,” he said. “The growing desire for God’s Word seems to be infectious!”

    So infectious, in fact, that Willingham has restructured Wednesday night services to accommodate the growing desire to go deeper into God’s Word. “On Wednesday nights, I now spend our time going deeper in the scripture from Sunday’s message and having serious discussion about its application to our lives,” he said.

    Attendance has increased in Sunday School, small groups and weekly worship services since the church participated in the spring emphasis.

    Lynn Sasser, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina executive leader for congregational services, said the change Willingham has witnessed is exactly what Find It Here strives to achieve. “It is our prayer that Find It Here will lead North Carolina Baptists to grow deeper in their walk with Christ so they will become prepared to follow Him no matter the cost.”

    Sasser said 575 pastors and church leaders are participating in Find It Here: Embracing Christ 2011. The initiative gives church leaders access to resources such as sermon outlines, Bible study lessons, prayer and devotional guides. The material can be customized to fit the needs of a particular church.   The ability to customize the outreach has worked well for Willingham. “I utilized most of the sermon passages, though not necessarily in the order they were given,” he said.

    “We also distributed the devotionals to the congregation and used the weekly Bible studies on Wednesday nights. Our church really seemed to get a lot out of focusing on a passage together for an entire week.”

    Although the fall emphasis is already underway in some churches, there is still time for more churches to participate. During the fall, participants work through six weeks of sermons and Bible study lessons from John 15, teaching believers the importance of abiding in Christ and bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. Willingham believes the fall emphasis will be an important catalyst to launch his church into the third and final year of Find It Here – a year that will build on the previous two years by focusing on missions mobilization.

    “We know discipleship is vital to missions,” Willingham said. “Discipleship prepares us for missions by helping us to see what will sustain the work after we are gone.”   Though it might not be a new formula, Willingham knows Find It Here is a great way to rejuvenate a church. “It is a wonderful way to get the entire congregation to focus on the essential elements of what it means to be a church and to go deeper in the scriptures and how to put those elements into action,” he said.

    Willingham should know more than anyone. He has seen Find It Here help restore spiritual vitality to his church.

    “I am thankful that our convention has put such an emphasis on things that truly matter in regard to the Kingdom of God,” he said.

    “Find It Here will make an eternal difference in the lives of our people.”

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    9/29/2011 7:53:00 AM by Buddy Overman, BSC Communications | with 0 comments

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