Lively Sunday School propels Esther Baptist
Church doubles in size, triples its baptisms as new pastor focuses on health
PARK HILL – At Esther Baptist Church, church growth isn’t a matter of following a fancy formula. For this church that has doubled attendance in worship and Sunday School and has tripled its baptisms over last year, it’s a matter of getting back to the basics.
Jonathan Jones, who came to Esther last year from Tennessee, said building a strong and thriving Sunday School has been their key to success.
“Sunday School is our key outlet, not only for discipleship but for evangelism, too,” he said. “People form relationships in Sunday School they just can’t get anywhere else.”
God has certainly blessed the Esther Sunday School. It now averages 140 each week, twice the number of a year ago. Baptisms went from five last year to 15 this year. The church has also had to find new education areas, with each department—from preschool to senior adults to college students to men’s and women’s ministry—seeing growth.
“I’m a huge proponent of Sunday School,” Jones said. “We preach it, teach it, and support it. Any church that has the idea that it isn’t the way to go is missing out on a blessing. It is a great resource for evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship. I believe Sunday School is one of the key elements in growing a healthy church full of healthy Christians.”
A glance at the church’s website confirms that this emphasis is real:
“The issue for Esther Baptist is church health, not church growth.”
Jones said that if a church is healthy, only then can it grow properly and effectively reach out to others.
“If a church is not healthy spiritually, how can we minister?” he said. “How can we evangelize? How can we present the Gospel out of these walls if we’re not healthy and being discipled in the church. You’ve got to start with a healthy base.”
While Esther is healthy and growing by earthly standards (attendance at Sunday worship has gone from 100 to 200 in a year’s time and they’re praying about adding a service), Jones is careful to point out that Esther is still far from the ideal.
“Striving to be a healthy church is first and foremost,” he said. “We’re focusing on it as a staff, a deacon body, and as a church. Be healthy, then present the message to the world.”