As God was putting this on our hearts, Mitch Whidden, NAMB church planting catalyst, approached Pastor Ray about Palmyra Baptist Church becoming a GBC neighborhood campus.
These were the next steps:
- Beginning conversation
- Prayer by all
- Evaluation by GBC leaders, Elders, and possible campus leadership
- Unanimous vote of confidence with our GBC elders to move forward with this direction
- Vote of confidence from Palmyra Baptist Church to move in this direction
God has placed it on our hearts to see lives transformed! When you think of neighborhood campuses think evangelism and discipleship. Statistics prove that the greatest way to reach people with the gospel is through a new or revitalized church! Jesus Christ underscored this in some of His last words in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples…”
Our vision is to transform our neighborhoods, the next generation and the nations through Jesus Christ by GATHERing together in united worship and teaching, GROWing in relationship as we follow Jesus, and GOing to unleash compassion and share with others the love of Jesus Christ.
The facts are staggering – 80% of Hoosiers do not attend church on Sunday, and in the next seven years 55,000 churches in America will close their doors. Our call is great, and it is clear – to make disciples (Acts 1:8). With a neighborhood campus, we are fulfilling our mission to GO into our neighborhoods. The number of unchurched adults has doubled in the last 15 years and now stands around 75 million. In order to reach those people, we have to go where they are. We can’t be content to stay on our own nice campus and expect the people to come to us. This is a great opportunity to reach other communities in our area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The neighborhood campus will be studying the same topics/Scripture as the New Albany campus. The groups will have the same material options (book(s) of the Bible or sermon-based curriculum). We are still walking through what will work best for both campuses. It could be that any neighborhood campus will have the gatherings in simulcast from the New Albany campus. Another option is that a campus pastor preaches the same sermon as Pastor Ray. It could also be a combination of the two. The gatherings will be focused on transformation with multi-generational music planned, communion once a month, and an invitation each week. As we walk through this process, we will find the most effective method to preach the Gospel in our neighborhood campus(es).
Instead of creating a new church from scratch, we are able to go into an established church that is in need of revitalization in order to grow and reach their community. These neighborhood campuses will be an extension of GBC and will be in line with our mission and vision. Any neighborhood campus is part of the whole, not its own entity like a church plant.
A neighborhood campus allows for:
- Sharing of resources, staff and vision, and financial resources
- Greater prayer support
Each neighborhood campus will have a worship leader. Each worship leader will exist to lead God’s people in His praise!
We don’t have a set date yet. After the established church votes, the legal documents will need to be finalized to make that church a part of the Graceland body. There is no set time frame, but each campus will be launched as God leads.
There could be costs in renovation, equipment, maintenance, staffing, etc. Each neighborhood campus will vary. Our prayer is for them to be self-supporting over time – giving to missions, community, etc.
We would like to plant neighborhood campuses anywhere from rural small towns to urban settings. We are open to wherever God leads.
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention will be partnering with us in this endeavor. As we have faithfully given to missions through the years, we now find that we are recipients of missionary giving!
Pastor Ray may, on occasion, preach at our neighborhood campus, as the campus is part of the whole that is Graceland Baptist. Pastor Ray is the shepherd of the entire entity of Graceland Baptist Church.
We are praying about it. At this point Graceland.
There will be a campus pastor who will be responsible for caring for that body of believers.
Pray! Pray for the people at each campus as they go through a season of transition into becoming a neighborhood campus. There will be some growing pains. Pray for our leaders as they seek God for the most effective way to reach each community. Pray for God’s guidance to raise up leaders in and for each community. If you are interested in serving, you can contact Pastor John Stamper. (Our first campus will be in Palmyra.)