Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Pleasantville Baptist Church

  • Jim Townsley
  • Sep 4, 2007

I grew up in a rural Indiana community where the closest town was Pleasantville. I have fond memories of this community. It was there that I attended grade school and it was there that my parents attended a small Baptist church. All four of my grandparents lived there as well as several other relatives. Frequently families would gather for reunions and community activities at the local (Rock House) community center. If a neighbor was is need someone would come to their aid, and although it was not an utopian society it did provide many lasting and wonderful memories for me.

The idea of an ideal society where everyone helps their neighbor and life is good may be unattainable, but the Bible teaches us the importance of our Christian community. We are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and literally we are members of the same body, the body of Christ. This unique connection among believers is true anywhere in the world. New believers find a church home that provides relationships and experiences that often are more relevant than their own families. My wife's first memory in life was Vacation Bible School. Children who attend Sunday School will develop lasting memories that never leave them. The church should provide a special fellowship and communion so that people always look forward to attending the services and serving the Lord together.

Just like the memories of Pleasantville, Indiana, I have fond memories of the first years of my spiritual life. The spiritual fervor, soul-winning, preaching, teen meetings, and other functions still serve as a reminder of the goodness of God. Though life may be filled with trials, temptations, and perhaps even persecution, the church provides a place of refuge and refreshment.

New church planters should be mindful of this impact on people's lives. New believers should anticipate the next service or the next meeting with eagerness. The singing, the preaching, the fellowship, and all the activities should occur with excitement and joy. Every preacher should periodically ask himself, "Why would people want to attend our church services?" Members should have an attitude of, "I can't wait until Sunday morning."

New churches often meet in temporary places and with limited resources. However, the days of setting up and tearing down for every service will someday be remembered fondly. Baptizing in a pond or swimming pool will create a lasting memory that new-comers will regret missing in those glory days. The bus breaking down, the baptistry leaking, or the roof leaking with all be remembered, but the spirit of the church in those early days will always be the most fond memory of all.

Can a church create an atmosphere and a spirit of expectancy in a church? I believe it can and should. It all begins with the vision of the pastor. No man of God should fret over his lack of money or facilities. A man of vision will create a spirit of enthusiasm and excitement. Many churches have no vision and no excitement. People come to church out of obligation, and they do not expect God to anything when they arrive at church. The preacher should create a spirit of excitement that is so wonderful no one will want to miss for fear of missing something great. There are some things that pastors can do to create a spirit of anticipation.

1. Have a weekly time of prayer with men of the church - Saturday morning or Saturday night are usually good times to get men to come for prayer. Other times may work as well, but every church should designate a special time to do nothing else but pray.

2. Sing evangelistic songs - The old-fashioned hymns that speak of the Book, the Blood, and the Blessed hope speak to the heart of men and women.

3. Go out and get new people to come - The preacher's primary job is to reach the lost. Many hours should be given to visitation. If the preacher brings in new people it can be contagious so that others will join him by bringing souls to Christ.

4. Promote the Sunday evening and Wednesday services - A special time of testimonies or a inviting a special preacher or a children's night all could create excitement in the church. It may require years to develop faithfulness in new believers, but it is necessary if they desire to grow in the Lord to become faithful to all the services of the church.

5. Meet with new converts weekly - In a new church this could be achieved by meeting one on one for coffee before work or on their lunch break or another time convenient to them. Also a weekly new member's discipleship class can help people to grow.

6. Have key members come early to church - Greeting early arrivals should be a standard practice. Getting to know them and becoming a friend to them will create a relationship that will edify the saints.

7. Start on time with a rousing song - The first song should be spirited and upbeat. People should join in the singing with a spirit of anticipation about the service.

8. Play the piano ten to fifteen minutes prior to the service beginning - Coming into a service where the instruments are playing unconsciously prepares the congregation for a moving service.

9. Preachers must fill their hearts with the message and let it spill out with power. We must preach Bible messages with fervor and zeal. Preaching can change people's lives and we should preach as if it were our last opportunity before the Lord returns.

10. Promote special days that people will enjoy and that will encourage visitors to attend - Every service should be utilized to promote a future sermon, a special day, or a special event. We can provide lasting memories for an eternity through the ministry of a new church. We can create our own little Pleasantville with our congregation.