A Church on the Rise
“God Is Up to Something”: A Church on the Rise
After years of prayer, Pastor Jamey Collins was thrilled to see God open a door at Jamestown Baptist Church in Conway. He and his wife, Paula, had been praying for 18 years for an opportunity to move to the area to be closer to family. The timing of the call from Jamestown was unexpected, with his wife owning and operating a successful daycare in the Upstate; but when she came home one day and announced that she thought it was time to close the business, Collins knew God was up to something. They made the move, and Collins took the position at Jamestown.
“The last year has been my most exciting year in the ministry without question. We actually had God save a few folks at my trial sermon service, and He has not stopped working and moving since that day,” Collins says.
When Collins arrived, attendance was hovering around 100 on Sunday mornings. After 13 months, that number has jumped up to 175. Just as important, the church has baptized 35 people.
“Jamestown is situated in a transitioning community and in recent years had plateaued like so many churches in their situation do,” Collins says. “However, there were several members here who refused to give up and kept praying for God to move and send revival. When I got here, they were sitting on ‘go’ and ready to see things turn around– ready to share the gospel and reach their community.”
“Very early on in my time here we adopted the phrase ‘God is up to something’ and no doubt that has been the case,” Collins says, pointing to the intentionality of the church to be unified in purpose and prayer. “I have had several people tell me that it’s fun to come to church. People love each other, and in that spirit we can focus on the problems people face in the world rather than problems within the church.”
Tiffany Sanders, a church member and Sunday school teacher feels that the addition of Collins and his family has made all the difference for the church. “When Jamey and his family came to JBC, we were at a crossroads. We have always had a loving congregation, but our church has been through turmoil, as do most churches at one time or another. Jamey and Paula, along with their three boys, brought life and Godly joy back into our church. They came with a vision and a mission to revitalize our church from the inside out. Jamey has brought life to the pulpit with his sound biblical preaching–along with his quick wit and sense of humor.”
Sanders feels an intentional focus on family and youth by Pastor Collins and his wife has contributed to the level of growth. “He and Paula have formed bonds with our church family and with people in the community. They have hit the streets, knocking on doors and meeting new people while sharing their testimonies and inviting them to church. Youth and children’s ministry hasbeen a focus for Jamey, as well. He wanted to run the youth VBS class, and we had one of the largest attendances for that age group ever! Theyhad a ball with him!”
In addition to a growth in membership, individual Sunday school classes have also been growing, including the women’s class that Sanders leads. “We all got together after we met Jamey and Paula and decided that if God blessed JBC with this family, we would do our parts in helping our church grow and furthering His kingdom. We began to pray for direction, and God brought excitement back into our class and helped to mend relationships. The excitement started catching on as we all began to invite more people to Sunday School. Our class is continuing to grow, and we are looking for a bigger room to meet in,” she said.
With growth climbing each week, Jamestown is praying about expansion. Already at 80 percent capacity each week, the church knows that space is needed. One option is to start a second service at a new location—perhaps at a local middle school as an option for reaching more unchurched people in the area with a different worship style and time. Prayers are being lifted about the prospect of a new church building on ten acres of property about a mile from the current location.
Regardless of what Jamestown Baptist decides to do to further expansion in this climate of quick growth, Pastor Collins has a few prayers for his church in the coming year. “Our prayer for this new church year is to grow stronger in the area of discipleship and continue reaching out to the community with the gospel. We have reorganized our mission groups and hired a full time student pastor, as well. Our prayer is that JBC will truly be a lighthouse in this community for those hurting and in need of salvation. At the same time, we want to aid our current membership in its walk with God and provide a place that can minister better to the whole family.”