Salyersville—Although it is difficult to say Bethel Bible Baptist rapidly, it doesn’t take long to figure out that something special is going on in this small rural church located just a few miles west of Salyersville.
In looking at the church’s Annual Church Profile for the past six years, Bethel Bible Baptist Church has experienced a tremendous time of revitalization. Membership has increased 25 percent; baptisms have increased in excess of 110 percent; Sunday School has increased 26 percent; worship attendance is up over 27 percent.
Pastor Tim Clark humbly offered some helpful insights for other small-church, rural pastors. After speaking with Clark, I determined that there were five “ships” present within the congregation: stewardship, discipleship, fellowship, relationship and leadership.
Stewardship. The church has not only been faithful in supporting missions by giving liberally through the Cooperative Program, but they also have been faithful to do the work of missionaries in the community. Clark said, “Our church was doing “Operation In As Much” before it became cool.” He also mentioned other acts of benevolence that the church has been involved in since he assumed leadership of the church more than five years ago.
Discipleship. It is Clark’s desire to teach the congregation to learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus. A good example of this is the church’s Sunday School. One of the methods used to increase attendance in Sunday school has been serving breakfast. He has a list of volunteers, usually couples, who are placed in a rotation. When their turn comes, they serve breakfast to the entire Sunday School. Each couple is responsible for purchasing breakfast food and the church reimburses them. It is important to note the church is currently under construction adding class space.
Tim also disciples his congregation by teaching them the value of prayer. On Wednesday nights, after a 15-minute devotional, the church will use the remaining time to focus on prayer concerns, praying for the lost, sick, and one another.
Fellowship. It is not an exaggeration to say that they do the work of the Lord together. They are a small church, and being such, they see no need for committees. Tim said, “I just take matters to the church and we decide things together.” They do life together, pray together, and sing together. For example, although the church is small, they have a 25 member church choir. Paulette Prater leads the music and incorporates a blended style of worship.
Relationship. You can’t have a revitalized church without a right, vertical relationship with the Father and a right, horizontal relationship with each other. The church strives to have both. A good example of relationship within the church is the relationship between Tim and his wife Sarilda.
Clark said, “Without Sarilda I could never do what I do. Since I am bi-vocational, she makes phone calls and contacts, answers emails, and performs internet searches that I do not have time to do.” As far as Tim is concerned, Sarilda is the most important member of Bethel Baptist.
Leadership. Tim has provided excellent servant-leadership for his congregation. He was a deacon in the church for 30 years prior to becoming its pastor. He told me he felt like Caleb, who answered God’s call at age 80. He added, “The church understands that I am a bi-vocational pastor; therefore, they know our church must be a shared responsibility.” (WR)
Paul Badgett, East Region Consultant