Your Church can grow
FWBBC Church Growth Seminars
Reach Local Churches
by Jack Williams
Learn more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Bible College at www.fwbbc.edu.
ONE OF OUR GOALS AT Free Will Baptist Bible College is finding ways we can serve local churches and pastors—to do something that helps right now when it matters most. That’s why for the past two years Reverend Terry Forrest, coordinator for FWBBC’s Pastoral Ministry program, has conducted church growth seminars in conjunction with his efforts to recruit students for the college.
Born of Necessity
The seminars are different and typically last Friday and Saturday. They grew out of real-life ministry experience that Rev. Forrest gained while pastoring in Arkansas. His Walnut Ridge congregation grew from 120 to 300 in eight years. In Monticello, these growth principles helped start a new church that went self-supporting during the first year. He also served nearly 15 years on the Arkansas State Mission Board.
The incentive to develop these principles used in seminars and taught in the FWBBC classroom came in 1991 when the pastor and leadership at Bethel FWB Church near Ashland City, Tennessee, asked Terry to plan and initiate a program for growth. Bethel’s attendance jumped from 115 to 177 during the first year, averaged 260 in Sunday School in 2006, with a high of 510.
The Jerry and Terry Show
When a pastor requests a growth seminar, Terry likes to partner with long-time friend Jerry Milom. Jerry is an FWBBC alumnus, a printer, a deacon, and the Sunday School Superintendent at Bethel FWB Church where Terry is a member and where he once pastored. Jerry puts together a complete Sunday School campaign and trains the workers. To this point, Terry and Jerry have taught four seminars in Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina. Terry conducted a solo seminar in Tennessee.
Materials Made to Order
Forrest designed a specific growth program he calls “A Grassroots Plan for Growth.” The plan has become part of the FWBBC course, PT 233 Church Growth: Theory and Practice, a requirement for Pastoral Ministry students.
The seminars begin with Terry briefing the pastor on what will take place. Nothing is presented without pastoral approval. The two meet with church leaders to ask for their support. On Saturday morning, a Sunday School campaign prepared exclusively for that church is implemented and workers trained.
Terry and Jerry provide a list of suggestions for the pastor and church leaders based on an on-site evaluation of the church’s program and facilities. Typically, these suggestions focus on a 15-year plan for growth. If the team stays through Sunday, they take the Sunday School hour (adult classes only) to talk to the congregation about growth.
“This approach is different from others,” Terry says, “in that it is multifaceted, sets short- and long-range goals, projects needed space requirements, and is designed to produce low anxiety/low fear among participants. It is based on the assumption that people, including laity, really want to do something for God’s kingdom, that they can and will if given the tools and training.”
FWBBC Gives Back
This is one of the ways that FWBBC gives back to the denomination while, at the same time, recruiting students for the college. We’re spreading the word about church growth one church at a time. We’ve found something that works, and we want to share it with others.
We’re doing that in three ways. First, every Pastoral Ministry student gets hands-on experience in church growth. That’s also true for other students in ministry-related programs (youth, Christian education, and more).
Second, after we teach students the principles of long-range local church growth, we send them back into our churches with an enthusiasm for church growth and the know-how to be part of the process.
Third, we take the “Grassroots Plan for Growth” directly into Free Will Baptist churches and show leaders how to increase their attendance.
Straight Talk and Practical Application
The “Grassroots Plan for Growth” uses language you can understand and involves four basic steps that can work for any church regardless of size or location:
Step One addresses how to create a growth environment and explains the four tools for church growth.
Step Two develops and trains soul winning/outreach teams, includes pastoral helps, trains shepherding teams to “close the back door,” and more.
Step Three sets in place a comprehensive, practical 16-month growth plan with specific goals and measurable results.
Step Four looks at expansion and the bumps to expect along the way, cites 14 outreach tools, and introduces community surveys as a means to locate prospects.
There’s more to the program than the four brief outline statements above, of course. Does it sound interesting so far? Want to know more? Check out the testimonials from pastors and laity where Terry and Jerry have conducted seminars.
Give Terry a call at (615) 844-5202 and talk with him about your growth concerns, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to his responsibilities as program coordinator and student recruiter at FWBBC, Terry can only accept a limited number of requests to conduct church growth seminars.
If You’re a Pastor…
If you’re a pastor, we hope this article encourages you and your church to do two things—to launch a church growth campaign and to prayerfully consider supporting Free Will Baptist Bible College with you students and your finances.
If you’re a student considering where to attend college, we hope you will pray about attending Free Will Baptist Bible College—we take God’s Word and God’s work seriously, and we have a place here for you.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Jack Williams is director of communications at Free Will Baptist Bible College.
Report from Kingsport, Tennessee / Fellowship FWB Church
—The greatest thing for me as a pastor was the one-on-one talk with Terry. He is a pastor to pastors. He shared a 10-point strategy for my church. The church growth weekend brought a spirit of revival to our church. We had 11 saved on Friend Day with an attendance of 257. We have also developed “GO,” a new visitation program. Pastor Jeff Davis
—The steps that Brother Forrest described were so simple. He really opened our eyes to a lot of growth options. Josh McKinney, Young Adult Sunday School Teacher and Youth Director
—I thoroughly enjoyed it and am excited about the church growth program that Brother Forrest helped us develop. He pointed out our strengths and weaknesses, and gave us encouragement that our church will grow.
Janice Harrison, Ladies Adult Sunday School Teacher
—The first part of the plan was to organize a Friends Day. Sunday School and worship were up (way up), and there were 11 decisions for Christ. He emphasized two things necessary for growth—cost and change. We must pay the cost, and we must change. I’m excited! We see real possibilities for tremendous growth.
Mike Bays, Deacon
Report from Turbeville, South Carolina / Horse Branch FWB Church
—After Terry Forrest and Jerry Milom conducted a church growth seminar, we had 67 more in Sunday School on our emphasis day than our average for the last quarter, and almost 80 more in the morning worship service. This came with little effort. Our people were amazed at the results. I highly recommend that every church wanting to reach their community for Christ contact these brethren about a Sunday School campaign and church growth essentials. Pastor Mike Edwards
Report from Greenwood, Arkansas / First FWB Church
—It has been over a year, but what I remember most was their sweet spirit and conviction about souls dying and going to Hell. It was not just a series of things we need to do. I received a real challenge, and a blessing later when I invited folks to church. Gerald Thomas, Chairman of the Deacon Board
—Terry and Jerry are great guys, and I recommend them. They come in to help the pastor and church. They were well prepared with charts and ways to help Sunday School growth, and how to get people involved in a ministry of our church. Terry gave ideas to the pastor, along with sermon outlines; Jerry focused on the Sunday School superintendent and teachers. Pastor Jim Walker
Report from Statesboro, Georgia / New Life Fellowship FWB Church
—After Terry Forrest preached a revival at our church, I was hyped-up with excitement and invited Terry and Jerry for a church growth seminar. They came and laid it all out. They made it simple to understand. They spoke frankly about what the church needed to do in order to see growth. The program is wonderful. It’s the real deal…for it focuses on evangelism and discipleship. But for this program to work, the old essentials must be in place—pastor and people sold on it, and hard work. Terry and Jerry have come up with a program that will work if the people will. Pastor Wayne Miracle