It’s here!

Our baptistery is here! Our portable baptistery arrived at our doorstep. It is a great fit for our current facility. At 30 inches wide we can roll it in for a service and out afterward. We still have to stain it, but it looks awesome. It is super easy to roll, and fills up fairly quickly. We are planning on having our first baptisms at our new building this weekend. Can’t wait to show you some pics of it being used.

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which denominations are growing/declining in America?

Report from the Religion News Service

(RNS) While mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. continue to experience decades-long decline, the memberships of Pentecostal traditions are on the rise, according to new figures compiled by the National Council of Churches.

Mainline Protestant churches that have seen a fall in membership since the 1970s continued their decline; the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported the greatest membership drop (2.6 percent) of the 25 largest denominations.

The membership declines in mainline churches led to a 1 percent decrease in total U.S. church membership, to 145.8 million.

Pentecostal churches make up four of the 25 largest churches, and both the Assemblies of God and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) increased in membership. Only six of the 25 largest memberships increased over the previous year.

Jehovah’s Witnesses experienced the greatest growth percentage overall, gaining 4.37 percent according to the yearbook. Several historically black denominations continued a years-long practice of not submitting fresh figures.

The 10 largest Christian bodies reported in the 2011 yearbook are:

1. The Catholic Church: 68.5 million, up 0.57 percent.

2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.1 million, down .42 percent.

3. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million, down 1 percent.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 6 million, up 1.42 percent.

5. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no membership updates reported.

6. National Baptist Convention, USA: 5 million, no membership updates reported.

7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.5 million, down 1.96 percent.

8. National Baptist Convention of America, 3.5 million, no membership updates reported.

9. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up .52 percent.

10. Presbyterian Church (USA): 2.7 million, down 2.61 percent.

How the internet has enabled churches

Our church is just getting started. We are still a small community of believers who are trying to reach a city. We have never averaged over 100 in attendence. We are one of the newest churches in Suffolk. However, online, none of that matters. I have worked hard getting our church online credibility. When you search “church suffolk” in google in our area (google knows your location) our website is number 2 on the first page. This is a direct result from our site being linked heavily, optimized for search engines and thoroughly prepared for google’s spyders. I encourage you to search church in you area and see where you rank in the page results. I say all of that to show you that online your church isn’t limited by location, number of pews, age of the building, etc. People looking for a church in Suffolk don’t know we aren’t the biggest, best, etc. They just know we are one of the first sites recommended by google to visit. I’d love to tell you we have thousands of people visiting, but we don’t. We have had over 600 visitors in just over 2 years. Many come from invites or postcards we send, but I guarantee many check us out online before coming the first time. Here are 3 benefits the internet affords the modern church today.

It enables churches to have a 24/7 billboard for little to no cost. We started our website before our church launched in 2008. Every month our website gets between 300 and 700 clicks. Sadly only aout half of those cicks are unique visitors. But that’s still 150 people checking out our church. The website allows them to see where we are located, what our services are like, what we have for children, etc. People want to know as much as possible before they visit a church.

It gives people who can’t make it to church anymore a way to still watch/listen as if they were there. Undoubtedly your church has people who are nearing retirement. Many people love their church, but as their bodies age they can’t come as frequently as they’d like. Our sermons are online for anyone to watch, but older church people especially love to feel like they still have a way to be connected. Of course many older poeple have a hard time with computers, but as time goes on the population (even retired peopl) will have more experience with computers.

It gives churches a global reach unlike anything else in history. The other day I was looking at the stats for our videos online. We host at vimeo.com. Their site allows me to see how many times a video was loaded, played, and finished. A video is loaded any time a webpage with our sermon video on it is visited. Our sermons are embedded in my personal blog here, on our church website, and on a few smaller sites. It is played any time someone presses play, and it is finished when someone actually watches all of the video. Since we started uploading sermons, they have been loaded 26,715 times, they have only been played 1,485 times, and the saddest number= only 107 finishes. Now those are pretty sobering numbers when I consider how much time I invest in our website and it’s video content. However, there is a silver lining. Our videos have been played in South Korea, Germany, France, Japan, India, Canada, Romania, Great Britain, Philippines, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Taiwan, Indonesia, Barbados, Moldova, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Costa Rica. Now, we are a small church, and our website isn’t even a blip on the map compared to many large churches in the world and online, but just think, if our little church can have any impact in that many countries (however small it may be) how much impact is the church as a global community having online!

So I guess my conclusion is: the internet is allowing us to expand the impact of the church far beyond our walls, our community, our state, and even beyond our borders. If our small church can have a little impact, how big an impact can a church of 200, 500, 1,500 have? What if everyone in your church posted a link to your church on facebook? Technology has allowed us a unique opportunity like never before. May we embrace every opportunity to make much of Christ.

CrossPointe update

We are excited to tell you about what’s been going on recently at CrossPointe. We started AWANAS a few weeks ago on Sunday nights, as well as our youth service for teenagers. Last Sunday night we had 79 come to church for the evening service. Nine of those were visitors. The kids and teenagers have really enjoyed the new ministries, and we are excited about the future generations of our church. The week before that was Fall Back Sunday. We had over 90 people in church that morning, and 17 in our Teen Sunday School class. That is the most we’ve ever seen in our Teen class. It was exciting to see so many new families, as well as some returning families.

We are still trying to find the best option for a baptistry. Pray we find one soon, because we have 11 people waiting to be abptized. Also please pray for us as we begin investigating how difficult a steeple would be to put up. The city will probably have some requirements, but we are hoping to get a small one soon.

8 People saved since September

The last few weeks have been great. God has allowed us to see alot of people we’ve been praying for make decisions for Christ. It’s interesting that many times the people who get saved are there as a result of a friend or family member inviting them, as well as witnessing to them. Often we spend our time trying to reach strangers (which we are obligated to do), and overlook those closest to us. Please pray for the many close relationships we have here in Suffolk who need Jesus. There are many people close to us who need us to take that first step and introduce them to Jesus. The truth is it’s usually easier to tell a stranger than to tell someone close. I struggle with confidence all the time when trying to talk about Jesus. But we need to place our confidence in WHO we are talking about, not who is talking.

Praying we see many more decisions,

thanks again for all your prayers and support,

Marc & Casie

CrossPointe has largest attendence in history

Yesterday was one of those days you work toward for months, and before you know it it’s over in a flash. For weeks we have been preparing for our GRAND OPENING service in our new building. Postcards were mailed, invitations were handed out, and friends were invited. As a result we had 202 people at church yesterday for worship, and 102 for Sunday School. We had a great day with many visitors. Larry Powell (Director of Home Missions) was with us and taught us in Sunday School. We also had the youth group from Unity FWB Church watch the service in our overflow room.

The saturday before the Grand Opening we had a community day with free food and games. We had lots of visitors stop in and check us out. Many came back the next day for the service. Here are some pictures of the community day and the Sunday service.

Top Ten signs you attended the NAFWB Convention in 2010

10. You left your Bible in your seat, in an effort to get your name in the Convention News lost and found.

9. You have a strange compulsion to feed everything to the fire ants.

8. You learned that when a preacher says “in conclusion” it means he has 35 minutes of notes left.

7. You were in a crowd of 6,000 people, of which only 50 know that twitter is not a bird in the arena.

6. You debated coming this year, until you heard Lay Gaga was coming too.

5. Your favorite song this year was “the chick-fila song.”

4. You still don’t know who WBC was there to picket, us or Lady Gaga?

3. You thought it would be funny to unplug the sound cable on Tuesday night.

2. You found out that International Missions is 75 years old. Conicidentally 75 is also the average age of  most FWB’s.

1. You felt a real sense of pride when the missionaries from around the world walked in to a standing ovation on Wednesday night. Moments like that help us realize how great God is and how much He is doing through His people all around the world.