Sometimes progress looks like a sanctuary overflowing with worshippers. Other times it looks like a rock concert on school bleachers filled with hundreds of screaming students.
When the long-range planning committee at Chatham Baptist Church engaged IBSA’s Scott Foshie in a recent consultation, one clear area of progress that surfaced was in engaging younger families and students from the community. Foshie connected them with Tim Rhodus, pastor of Cross Church in Carlinville and pathfinder with IBSA’s church Health Team, to serve as Chatham’s consultant for their Next Step process.
Launched at the 2021 Annual Meeting, IBSA’s Next Step process starts with an initial conversation to determine the best area for the church to focus – Health, Growth, or Mission. Then church leadership is paired with a consultant in one of these three areas to help them discover where God wants the church to go, what problems might be holding them back, and how to map out a plan that includes their next step toward that goal.
How would Chatham take a step toward the goal of reaching younger families and students? Student pastor Ahron Cooney quickly recognized a next-step opportunity – working with New Berlin schools to sponsor a daytime assembly followed by an evening concert and party.
Cooney said nearly 500 middle and high school students attended the assembly. Each heard the Christian rock band Attaboy deliver a talk on the power of words to build others up or tear people down. While not referencing Scripture, the message was based on the teachings of James chapter 3.
That evening students and adult volunteers from the school and Chatham Baptist Church came back for a party featuring hotdogs, snow cones, games, and inflatables and then enjoyed another concert by Attaboy. The Gospel was shared along with opportunities for students to connect with adult volunteers from the church.
“I was able to get more than 30 unique contacts for teens from the event,” Cooney said, “and I have emailed or texted each of them to invite them to join us for our weekly Student gatherings.”
The event is a strategic first step toward engaging teens and families outside the walls of the church building. Cooney already sees the event as a success because it has opened the door to more conversations with school administrators for future events.
To learn more about IBSA’s Next Step consulting, contact MarkEmerson@IBSA.org.