FBC Atmore sees beginning of change in revitalization journey

FBC Atmore sees beginning of change in revitalization journey

Bobby Davis said he and others at First Baptist Church, Atmore, don’t think they’re a dying church — they just need to be injected with a little new fire.

When Davis first joined the church in 1957 after his stint in the service, they were running 500–600 in worship.

“I have to take into consideration that was seven years after the start of the Korean War and we were also still in the post-World War II era,” said Davis, 85, the church’s deacon chairman and a member of the vision team.

Attending church was popular back then, he said — but times are different. A year ago they had about 100 at Sunday worship.

“We’re fighting an increasingly secular culture, and it bothers me because all this is happening on my watch,” Davis said.

A start

But on his watch they’re also beginning their revitalization journey. The Escambia Baptist Association church has called a new pastor — Kevin Garrett — who is working on his doctor of ministry in church health and next generation ministries through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. They’ve also engaged Auxano, a church consulting firm, after a donor within the church gave generously to the pastor’s discretionary fund. 

Garrett and Davis agree there is not a success story yet — it’s just a start. They simply feel they are humbly following Christ into what’s next. But in the first quarter of this year the church was up nearly 23% in worship attendance, 9% in Sunday School attendance and nearly 24% in undesignated giving.

“I’m thrilled with where we’re headed,” Garrett said. “We’re just here trying to see how we can best reach our community.

“Progress is good. And Bobby Davis — along with the previous pastor — has led the church well into this season. So many people his age are sitting by and complaining about what had changed. He’s selling effective change to reach others,” Garrett said.

Davis said the church’s hope in calling Garrett was to get “someone who could invest [his] life in us and love us and bring us back to the right condition.”

A desire to serve

And he said maybe that’s happening already. Some younger people are starting to attend and they’re working to get involved in more community activities.

“We just want to love the people around us,” Davis said. “The gospel hasn’t changed. We want to show that Jesus makes a difference and get them to want to join us.” (Grace Thornton)