A small, country Baptist church in Jacksonville, N.C., is booming.
On Sunday morning, Oct. 16, Blue Creek Baptist Church baptized three people and saw 23 people become church members. The church also maxed out its discipleship groups within the same week.
Senior Pastor Josh McCord said he doesn’t have a “magic formula” for church growth but believes the Lord has been stirring people’s hearts.
“People are excited. I preach the Word. I’m not laying anything out that’s fluffy,” McCord said. “I’m not a numbers guy. I’m a kingdom guy, and I try to do things as much as possible as what God did.”
Calling that Sunday a “perfect storm,” McCord explained four ways the church had been prepared for such growth.
God laid a foundation of what matters.
During the pandemic, the country was knocked off its feet, giving the church an opportunity to help others consider their hearts and rethink their lives.
“The nation is hungry for absolute truth, and because everybody has been through 2020, I believe that has prepared people’s souls and minds to come in and hear the gospel fresh,” McCord said.
The church was equipped to understand what it means to be true disciples of Jesus.
McCord said that before he became the church’s pastor in August, the two-year interim pastor, Wes Smith, faithfully led the congregation to become engaged and on mission for the gospel.
Smith helped the church establish partnerships with its military community and started D-Groups, small discipleship groups that are dedicated to studying God’s Word together.
“[This growth] didn’t just happen overnight. It was a year in the making that God did that,” McCord said. “Now, people that are here coming, they’re hungry for the Word, hungry to get plugged in.”
In addition, every Sunday for the month of September, Blue Creek invited the missionaries they support to speak to the congregation about the Great Commission. This prepared their hearts to take action as followers of Christ.
The church modeled its format on Jesus’ example.
“The missing key ingredient in the American church is disciples making disciples who make disciples who make disciples,” McCord said. “That’s the model. That’s what God did. He took young adults, He made disciples who make disciples, and they will absolutely plant seeds to disciple others who can then become disciples.”
Immediately after becoming pastor, McCord, aiming to follow Jesus’ example, started a Sunday school class for young adults.
“[Jesus] built the church on young adults,” said McCord, who came to know Christ at the age of 21. He emphasized how churches need to reach out and meet young adults right where they are — and invite them to follow Jesus.
“The church is not doing a good enough job at looking at Christ and how He did ministry and following His example, beginning with young adults,” McCord said. “It’s amazing, you get a group of those 18 to 25, 30-year-olds, and guess what happens? You’ve got people in the nursery that have that young heart and attitude and all the energy in the world to chase around those toddlers; you’ve got youth workers; you’ve got people who can serve and help the senior adults with things in their house and to bring them food.
“All these things where we’re like, ‘Where are our volunteers?’ They’re young adults. That’s why Jesus chose them. They have the maturity of an adult with the youth of a younger person and they are ready and willing to do all the work.”
The church was ready and expectant to experience the power of God.
“I’ve come to expect God to be the God of the Bible, that what He says, He does,” McCord said. “For example … [in] the Book of Acts, it says that daily He was adding people to the church, right?” (see Acts 2:47).
McCord was convicted reading that passage, realizing he used to only imagine his church being like that. Now, he realizes that’s what God is actively doing.
“It’s not about Blue Creek adding members daily,” McCord said. “God is adding to His church every day. … God showed me He is doing greater things even than what we see in the Bible. If we believe it, we’ll see it; if we don’t, we won’t.”
Going back to Oct. 16, McCord recalled feeling expectant and excited for what God would do.
“He does incredible things, He blows our minds. He does things that, they’re just off the charts. If we just sit back and believe and listen and watch, we will see His hand moving,” McCord said.
And that’s exactly what happened.
After McCord preached from the Gospel of Mark in chapter 12, sharing how rejecting the resurrection — not believing what God teaches — is deadly, he invited the church to come alive and follow the living God.
One person after another came forward to join the church.
“They just kept coming,” McCord said. “My eyes teared up, and my heart was full. Because I’ve seen the kingdom grow.”
That Sunday, more people decided to get baptized the following week. Since that point, the pews have been filling out more each week.
“When, not if, we outgrow our current building, we’re not going to build another bigger building. We’re going to multiply,” McCord said. “We’re going to plant a church, plant multiple churches, and continue to spread the gospel and multiply in the kingdom.
“We will build the church through discipleship, by accountability, and [by] studying the Scriptures and doing what God says — not just reading it. That’s the plan, and it will never change.”
by Lizzy Haseltine, N.C. Baptist contributing writer