Members of Amite Baptist Church believe in missions because they do missions, pastor Terry Booth says.
DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (BP) – Members of Amite Baptist Church believe in
missions because they do missions, pastor Terry Booth says.
“It is my conviction that we [the Southern Baptist Convention] will not
be able to sustain Cooperative Program support without direct
involvement,” said Booth, pastor of the Denham Springs, congregation
since 1985. “There’s just a difference when people come back from
mission trips; it puts a fingerprint on their giving.”
Amite Baptist gives 13.5 percent of its undesignated offerings through
the Cooperative Program because it’s a loyal Southern Baptist church
with a strong belief in missions, Booth added.
“The connection is pretty easy for the congregation to grasp,” Booth
continued. “As [former Amite member] Derrick Thornton plants churches
among Muslims in Atlanta, our CP missions dollars are helping him….
When our members see this, it’s easier for them to digest the concept
of giving to missions, and to capture it and support it.”
Booth said he returned in 2000 from a mission trip to Thailand with a
fresh understanding of the need for personal involvement in missions,
which he has been sharing ever since with his congregation, which
numbers about 1,100 in two Sunday morning services.
“This generation doesn’t have any innate conviction that the
Cooperative Program is fundamental to who we are,” Booth said, “so I
have to help them understand that the connection. What I have found is,
if you put your people on the front line of missions, you have a story
easier to tell about the cooperative venture.”
Missions is an Acts 1:8 local-to-global, Kingdom-building venture for
Amite Baptist. A preschool through second-grade program reaches about
350 youngsters -– and their families -– five days a week; the
evangelistic Upward Basketball program touches another 330 ballplayers
and their families. AWANA and youth programs, in-home small groups, a
battered women’s shelter, abortion clinic and various other entities
provide more ways of reaching the community.
So do the church’s two elaborate drama productions each year -– in the
spring and fall -– which together result in 800 or more decisions; each
person receives personalized spiritual counsel and a Kingdom-building
connection with the church of their choice.
“One thing I teach my people: ‘Pray every day,’ I tell them. ‘Lord, let
me so live today that when I go to bed tonight, somebody else will be
better off because I was alive.’
“I see so much of their ministry carried out almost spontaneously if
not actually spontaneously,” the pastor continued. “What I see in my
people is that heart that causes them to find ministry opportunities on
their own…. They really see themselves as being essential
communicators of the Gospel through their gifts and talents and
God-given abilities. They want to be a part of making a difference.”
Since the pastor’s return from Thailand, when he challenged the church
to be directly involved locally to globally in missions, members have
ministered in Uganda twice, Mexico twice, and once each to Idaho,
Baltimore, Mississippi and Florida, plus numerous mission trips
throughout Louisiana. At least 20 former members of Amite Baptist are
serving on a church staff; several others are involved fulltime in
missions initiatives of the SBC’s International Mission Board or North
American Mission Board.
With direct involvement, Booth said, “we start to see people through
God’s eyes, and that changes us -– changes our actions, our giving -–
and changes our heart. We start loving people with God’s love, and I
will live and die for the fact that you’ve got to love people into the
Kingdom. The Cooperative Program extends that love, expands that love.”