A presentation developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett that offers testimony of how God shifted the Green Mountain Baptist Association from a program based ministry to a ministry based on strategy.
The Green Mountain Baptist Association is made up of small churches that serve rural villages and small towns. It is not possible for us to do everything like big city associations do, so we decided to focus on three key priorities and focus our ministry on strategies that would support those priorities.
Historical Context - The way it used to be in the Green Mountain Baptist Association:
• In the past the GMBA did a lot of things for the churches that the churches should have been doing for themselves.
• For example, we trained most of the Sunday School teachers instead of letting the churches train them themselves.
• It seemed we were constantly begging people to come to our meetings and our events.
• In 1999 we realized that not only could we not keep doing things the way we had done them in the past, but that our well intentioned efforts were actually hindering the growth of the individual churches.
• We began to look for ways in which we could be more effective in our efforts because the lostness around us was almost overwhelming and business as usual was not working.
• We realized we needed to move to a strategy based effort instead of a program based effort. It took time to make this change.
• In 2001 we decided to stop promoting specific programs and instead focus on helping churches develop individual strategies that actually worked.
• Though some pastors did not like this approach, others embraced it and those individual churches have grown as well as the total number of churches in the association.
The Green Mountain Baptist Association decided to focus on three key priorities:
Encouraging Visionary Leadership
Engaging the Culture with the Gospel
Igniting Spiritual Passion
We encourage visionary leadership:
•Through 1 on 1 mentoring and small group gatherings due to the distance between churches and the large number of bivocational pastors.
•By encouraging more visionary pastors to take less visionary pastors out to lunch and spend time with them.
•By highlighting visionary efforts from our churches/pastors in our newsletter and website.
•By encouraging our pastors to plan their own events which the association can support and promote instead of asking the churches to take part in association sponsored events.
•Though aggressive fundraising to help our churches’ fulfill their vision. These funds are outside our regular budget and must meet one of our three priorities.
We engage the culture with the Gospel:
• By facilitating over 50 volunteer mission teams each summer to do ministry projects such as VBS, sports camps, block parties, construction on the homes of elderly and/or needy people in the community, and musical concerts.
• By asking those same volunteer teams to train the local church to do the ministry themselves once the team leaves.
• By encouraging our churches to take part in community events instead of creating their own events.
• By facilitating direct partnerships with state conventions, individual churches and associations, foundations, and individuals who have a passion for sharing the Gospel with Vermont. We encourage these partners to only adopt and fund projects that help the churches directly engage the culture with the Gospel.
We join the Holy Spirit in Igniting Spiritual Passion by:
• Encouraging our churches to engage in prayer walking in their own town and in nearby towns.
• Facilitated the adoption of every town in Vermont for concerted prayer by at least one church in North Carolina. Some towns have multiple prayer partners.
• Choosing not to start a mission in any town until we sense a “spiritual breakthrough” in that town.
• By asking each of our four full time missionary couples and our one half-time missionary to set the example by doing direct ministry themselves. Each of them are deeply involved in the churches they are members of and take part in direct missionary efforts instead of just doing administrative ministries. Note: All but one of these couples serve through the MSC program.
Is this strategy based effort working better than our old system of promoting programs?
- In 2001 all the churches combined had a total membership of 881 people, in 2010, the combined membership had risen to 1,663.
- In 2001 the churches only baptized 69 people combined, while in 2010 those same churches baptized 129 people.
- In 2001 the Sunday worship attendance of all the churches combined was only 866 people, whereas in 2010 the combined Sunday attendance was 2027.
- In 2001 the Sunday School enrollment for all the churches was 679, with an average of only 463 people. By 2010 the enrollment had increased to 1,789 with an average attendance of 1,300.
- Though numbers do not tell the whole story, clearly they tell part of the story. A focus on strategy instead of programs has helped facilitate remarkable growth in the past decade for GMBA churches. Join us in praising God for these amazing results.