You Gotta Give it Away

By Mark Archibald, Pastor of Spiritual Formation, First Baptist Church Lethbridge

Derek Webb, the musician formerly of the band Caedmon’s Call, has discovered the secret of increasing your album sales, concert attendance, and enlarging your fan base:

Give your music away for free.

His website–or is Webb-site?–NoiseTrade allows musicians and songwriters of all levels of experience to pass along music for free, thus enlarging the possibilities of what they are able to do in their career.  Rather than holding tight to income and royalties, these artists gain far more with open hands than they ever would with tight fists.

The secret to church growth that I keep reading about is the same: give of yourself freely.

At 114 years old, First Baptist Church is by no means a church plant. We’re older than the city in which we live! But as a multi-staff facility with a high volunteer involvement we have the opportunity to support church plants and smaller congregations around us.

As much as this makes us sound gracious and good and giving, here’s a dirty little secret: Sharing with church plants and smaller churches is an incredibly selfish venture. We gain too much by going and sharing that we cannot afford NOT to go!

The example that has been most meaningful to us has been the multiplication of our Day Camp (traditionally called “Vacation Bible School”).  Volunteers pour weeks and months into preparing for the Day Camp that we host at our church.  It runs from 9:00-noon for 5 days in the first full week of July and is open for kids entering grades 1-6.

As we prepared for our own Day Camp, we were also preparing to do this same Day Camp in 3 other locations. All of these locations would not be able to run a program like this on their own, and they appreciate the extra help and resources. The same camp was multiplied (or maybe recycled) as:

  • A four-afternoon Day Camp at Lighthouse Gospel Church in Stand Off.  Stand Off is a town in the Kainai-Blood Tribe First Nations Community within a half hour from Lethbridge.
  • A 3-day Day Camp with a church plant in Kaslo, BC.
  • A 3-Sunday event at Brooks International Gospel Church, a CBWC church plant with high Philippino and African attendance and leadership.

Because the Day Camp is built to be multiplied, we benefit in these ways:

  • Leadership is multiplied.  The Kaslo Day Camp was led by Karen McBeath, our Children’s Ministry Coordinator, and the Brooks location was directed by our summer staff.
  • Relationships are multiplied. We have an affinity with Brooks because of our CBWC connection, accompanied with an ever-growing partnership.  A significant percentage of people who live on the Kainai First Nation at some point in their lives will be living in Lethbridge – we are sowing seeds for future relationship possibilities. The Stand Off Day Camp continues to be done in partnership with Park Meadows Baptist Church.
  • Youth discipleship is multiplied.  Do you know who is most available to volunteer with these Day Camps? Middle School Students! Their ideas of church, Christ and the world get enlarged with every trip. They get on-the-job training elsewhere that benefits us at our own church (I told you we were selfish)!
  • Diversity is multiplied. The Kaslo event was truly a multi-generational venture. Many of our retirees spend summer near Kaslo and were delighted to serve while on vacation. We have so much that we learn and appreciate from First Nations, African and Filipino culture when we take the Day Camp show on the road.

When we give of our staff and volunteers to these other churches, our ministry involvement increases, our people grow deeper in their own faith through service, and our entire church gets excited about possibilities for ministry in our region. When we look inward we shrink.  When we look outwards, the possibilities for growth in our own church are endless!

What ministries and assets at your own church can you multiply?

Talk to Church Planting Director Shannon Youell today about how you can pool your resources with other churches and church plants in your area. Email or call 250.216.6332.

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