MONETT — Though its name is misleading, Senior Pastor Aaron Weibel said New Site Baptist Church is believed to be the oldest Baptist church in Barry County.
“We are 164 years old,” said Weibel, who has served at New Site for the last 11 of those years. “New Site is a blue collar working man’s church and it was certainly growing before I came along and we have just continued to grow. For six weeks we ran over 600 in our Sunday morning worship service. And, by the way, that’s a work of the Holy Spirit, not us.”
But that large of a congregation is still impressive for a church that sits in the country two miles outside of Monett, a city with a population just under 9,000.
“New Site has been a loving church,” Weibel said. “And we have sought out ministries that show our love and meet the specific needs of our community. I think our growth reflects that.”
John Henry, associate pastor at New Site, said he can attribute some of the church’s most recent growth to a ministry they call “New Site Nite School.” The school offers four or five “electives” for adults to study, from parenting and marriage classes to a Spanish Bible classes taught by a local Hispanic pastor.
“It’s a way we are able to scratch their need,” Henry said. “New Site is a body of believers who accept people whether young or old, rich or poor. In everything we’ve done we have tried to bridge those gaps.”
New Site has also been a beacon in its Barry County Southern Baptist Association as a leader in both its Upward Sports and Celebrate Recovery ministries.
“What Celebrate Recovery does is let everyone know that it’s OK to come to church with a problem; we don’t assume all is well and good,” Weibel said. “People have problems. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and we shouldn’t complain about dirty feet if we are not going to somehow get down and wash them.”
Weibel said the power to bring in people and show them the truth is in the seed, and not in the tough field. He said the main thing is for the pastor and the church to be faithful.
“Where there is Jesus, there is life; and where there is life, there is growth,” Weibel said. “We have done a lot of things through trial and error and I have made probably every mistake you can make as a pastor. In fact, I’d say I am the poster child for pastoral dysfunction. Good thing it’s not about me.”