By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
HAUGHTON – Will Taylor stepped into the baptismal waters, joining his wife, Lori, and their teenage daughters for a moment in time his family will never forget.
As Pastor Gevan Spinney baptized each member of the family, the Taylors beamed with excitement over the journey that brought them to this point in life.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The family had resided in Haughton for four months when the historic floodwaters in March 2016 nearly overtook their neighborhood. But tragedy became jubilation as they continued to see how the church ministered to families in the community.
One by one, they grew closer to Christ as they became more involved in the life of First Baptist Church in Haughton.
First, Lori and Will Taylor joined a small group, leading to growth in what had been a stagnant spiritual life after both had made commitments to Christ.
He at 17 and she at nine.
Then Will and Lori repented to restore their fellowship with Jesus, and their resulting zeal for the Lord manifested in big changes in how they lived.
Their teenage daughters witnessed the authenticity of the transformation, and subsequently accepted Christ at the 2017 Louisiana Baptist Convention Evangelism Conference.
They celebrated their new lives in Him by being baptized together Feb. 12 – the day of Will Taylor’s 39th birthday. The two teenage daughters were baptized Feb. 19.
“There are not enough words to describe the joy we have felt,” Lori Taylor said. “First Baptist Church Haughton may be a ‘big’ church with large buildings, but they have that small town, home church feeling. God is moving in big ways here in the small town of Haughton and we are so blessed to be part of it.”
Spinney said the seeds planted in the Taylors’ lives after the flood reminded him of how Joseph prevailed, beginning with a difficult situation of landing in prison and ending with becoming high in command of Egypt.
“What Satan meant for evil, God turned for good,” said Spinney, who also serves as Louisiana Baptist Convention president.
WAVE OF BAPTISMS
The Taylors are part of a wave of baptisms occurring at First Baptist Haughton.
From Dec. 4 to March 5, First Baptist Haughton baptized at least one person every Sunday morning worship service, with the exception of Jan. 1, for a total of 21 baptisms.
Spinney has told his congregation they are in the midst of an unplanned revival and they hope God does not bring it to an end.
“For us, it’s really exciting,” Spinney said. “We baptize over 100 each year, so having this many baptisms this early is not really out of the ordinary for our church. But it just has been a sweet season for us, coming out of ministry we saw after last March’s floods and seeing baptisms for so many Sundays in a row. God is doing some neat stuff and is blessing our congregation in so many ways.”
Once baptism occurs, three confirmations are made: enlistment in a Life Group; enrollment into a four-week Connections class where they cover the topics such as knowing Christ, the Body of Christ, serving Christ and sharing Christ; and assignment to a six-week new believer class.
This ensures that each believer is exposed to the basics of Christianity, how they can best connect with our church and how they can utilize their giftedness for God’s glory, Spinney said.
The class for new Christians is one of many discipleship opportunities First Baptist Haughton offers annually.
During the fall and spring, the church offers Christian Life University (CLU), an eight-week semester-based discipleship program designed to equip believers with discipleship skills that increase their faith and Kingdom usefulness. CLU offers as many as 30 discipleship classes on Sunday evenings for children, youth, and adults.
Classes are offered according to the following grid: men, women, family, children, youth, ministry/missions, and spiritual disciplines. A current listing of topics can be found at http://fbchaughton.org/clu-class-listings/. Attendance in the spring session will average 400, of which 160 who are attending a class on Apologetics.
In 2016, 125 people met in Journey Groups, which are gender-based groups of three to four people who meet in closed groups, mainly off-campus. These smaller groups meet for the purpose of deep spiritual growth and to develop what First Baptist Haughton calls “2 a.m. friends.” Journey Groups meet for approximately 18 months then they are encouraged to multiply exponentially.
The baptisms and passion for discipleship are characteristics of what First Baptist Haughton is about – evangelism.
To reach its community, state, nation and world, the congregation will use a wide variety of methods to penetrate a lost culture with the Gospel. These include a wild game supper at the church, summertime block parties in neighborhoods, Life Group ministry projects off-campus to engage non-church members, and an Easter egg hunt attended by more than 1,500 people at a local ballpark.
“We’ve seen God move in mighty ways in the last several years,” Spinney said. “During each season of revival I remind our people of two things – let’s be careful to give God the glory for all that is taking place and let’s not do anything to quench His Holy Spirit.”