For the past eight years, First Baptist Church in Kearney, Neb., has been in new construction mode. Land was purchased, plans were in hand and the congregation had voted to start building. And then God opened the door to an unexpected opportunity.
Do we measure the success of our churches by the number of people present each Sunday, the square footage of our buildings, the number of degrees held by our pastoral staff or the amount of money that is given to annual missions initiatives? Although I appreciate and value what these things mean to a congregation, I wonder if those criteria are the best way to measure whether a fellowship of believers is fulfilling its call to participate in the building of God’s kingdom.
Irv Cockriel is sounding the alarm for any who will listen. The retired college educator now works to educate his fellow Baptists on the importance of getting college students in church. Cockriel, who retired in 2000 after 32 years as an educator and administer in the College of Education at the University of Missouri, had a wake-up call about five years ago when he heard statistics from a youth minister about how many church-going youth fall away from church in college and never come back.
After a fire destroyed Antioch Baptist Church in Ralls County, Mo., on Dec. 20, pastor Jack Emmite promised the congregation one thing: they would have a place to worship on Christmas Sunday. That place was Smith Funeral Home, which invited Antioch to hold services in their chapel.