Tag Archive - baptist


How Fresh Eyes can Help Your Church get UnStuck

They wanted to reach people for Jesus, but they were stuck. The numbers couldn’t lie. They had been running 200-300 people for the last 10 years, but decline was settling in. Something felt off. The changes they had tried to implement–like creating a “blended” traditional/contemporary worship service–only left them more frustrated when growth did not come. They needed a fresh perspective.

In 2012 I met with Joe Stewart. Joe was the new Lead Pastor at Sabino Road Baptist Church and he was hopeful about their future. He refused to let this ministry stagnate into irrelevance. In my time with Sabino Road I walked them through a Health Assessment to lend new eyes to its strategies, systems and structure and provide a current snapshot of the ministry’s health.

“It was an incredible asset to have someone from the outside say what he saw and provide me with an ally for change,” said Pastor Joe. “The Unstuck Group has a unique way of facilitating discussion and helping staff and key leaders gain understanding of how to move forward.”

Sabino Road did not have a culture of change, which made the process move slowly. Some things were difficult, like transitioning to a new worship pastor and building a new website, but the mindset shift that occurred began to gain ground. The church realized its culture had unintentionally become insider-focused and was able to clarify its mission, vision and values to be about reaching out.

The “transition team” that Pastor Joe rallied set a goal of seeing 100 new guests visit the church between May 2013 and May 2014. As of today, they’ve already exceeded that goal, and they’ve retained 37% of the new folks.

The church has seen more growth in the last two years than it had in the previous 10.

“Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” Proverbs 24:3-5 (NKJV)

Click the following links to learn more about the Unstuck Group and the Ministry Health Assessment or other services we provide to help churches get unstuck!

Posted in Leadership


Do Denominational Labels Matter Anymore?

Recently I was criticized by a former student that Thomas Road Baptist Church is not “Baptist” enough. I’ve heard that from time to time. Used to happen at West Ridge Church when new folks would come in and say, “love this place, but it’d better be Baptist or we’re gone!”

My word. John the Baptist didn’t die for my sins, Jesus did. Having been in a Baptist church most of my life, I have an appreciation for the times in history when true followers of Jesus in response to false teachings or persecutions did distinguish themselves with the name Baptists. I do appreciate the long history of disciples who called themselves Baptists who gave all and died on foreign shores to proclaim Good News. People claimed the name Baptist as a way to say they were followers of the Way in religiously confusing times. I honor those martyrs and that history. It’s disrespectful to ignore it.

But Baptist only? Baptist above all? The Baptist life? What about the Christ life? What about Christian? What about disciple of Jesus above all?

I humbly perceive that 90% of people who argue about being Baptist over another name are referring to worship styles, denominational practices, and secondary or tertiary teaching distinctions. They don’t understand primary biblical doctrine that unites most of us. By the way, stick another name in here: Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentacostal, Calvary Chapel, Lutheran- we’re all guilty.

Yes, Dr. Falwell once held an event called Baptist Fundamentalism, which gave us all a free trip to skip conference sessions and explore Washington DC. But he was a Christian first and foremost – “Jesus First”. He was a fundamentalist evangelical, holding to core teachings and heart of the mission with any brother of another name who would join.

Time is coming very rapidly in America, where names, tribes, associations, denominations will mean very, very little to anyone outside the faith. The only questions they will ask are these: “Are you followers of that Jesus? Do you believe those teachings of that Book? Do you really love each other the way He said you would? Is there any salvation there for me?”

God help us if the answer is, “not sure ‘bout all of that, but we’re Baptist!”



This is a guest post by my friend Matt Willmington. Matt is the Director of Ministries at Thomas Road, where he has served in various capacities for 13 years.  Prior to rejoining TRBC in 2009, Matt ministered eight years as executive pastor and small groups pastor at West Ridge Church in Dallas, GA. Matt is also a former youth ministry educator for Liberty University.

Matt has been a Christ-follower for 42 years and husband of a kindergarten teacher (Chris) for 23 years. He is also the father of two young adults and one high schooler.

Posted in Spiritual Formation