Only 22 of the 43,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention could say they-
- baptized at least 26 people per year for 10 consecutive years
- experienced overall worship attendance growth during the same 10 years
- and had a membership to baptism ratio of no more than 20 to 1.
LifeWay Research and Dr. Thom Rainer were fortunate enough to be able to study 19 of the 22 churches and discovered four common elements.
- Pastors Set the Bar
Interviews indicate the churches have taken on the vision, priorities, and values of the senior pastor. Staff and lay leaders find it easy to follow the pastor. There are high levels of trust in these pastors.
- Church Atmosphere
These churches are consistently described as “exciting,” “dynamic,” “energetic,” “upbeat,” “friendly,” “welcoming,” “warm,” and “positive.”
- Evangelistic Appeal
Pastors indicate they seek to include the gospel in most, if not all, of their sermons. They stress the importance of preaching the gospel and providing opportunities for lost people to respond. More than two-thirds indicate they offer a public invitation at the end of every service. The others invite inquirers to fill out a decision card.
- Intentional Outreach
The pastors are focused on reaching people for Christ. Whether it’s through focusing the content of sermons, planning the worship services, or simply the nature of church programming, it is clear that everything is designed with outreach in mind.
Although similar in the above qualities, these churches didÂ use different methods regarding preaching, styles of worship, evangelism training, and small group strategies. Participating churches include:
- Atlee Community Church (Mechanicsville, VA)
- Biltmore Baptist Church (Arden, NC)
- Cedar Creek Church (Aiken, SC)
- Church of Pembroke Pines (Pembroke Pines, FL)
- Clements Baptist Church (Athens, AL)
- Fellowship of the Rockies (Pueblo, CO)
- First Baptist Church of Oviedo (Oviedo, FL)
- Highlands Fellowship (Abingdon, VA)
- Hopewell Baptist Church (Gainesville, GA)
- Jersey Baptist Church (Pataskala, OH)
- Lenexa Baptist Church (Lenexa, KS)
- Lindsay Lane Baptist Church (Athens, AL)
- London Bridge Baptist Church (Virginia Beach, VA)
- Mandarin Baptist Church (Los Angeles, CA)
- Miles Road Baptist Church (Summerville, SC)
- NorthPointe Community Church (Fresno, CA)
- Northside Baptist Church (Wilmington, NC)
- Seoul Baptist Church (Houston, TX)
- Sarasota Baptist Church (Sarasota, FL)