HIGH RIDGE – When Reggan Jett came from West Virginia in May, 2019, to pastor in Missouri, he knew Fellowship Baptist Church needed work. Since then, God has obviously done a work.
“It’s been crazy. I don’t know how to explain it other than God (is at work),” Pastor Jett said.
Fellowship saw 19 families join during the pandemic in 2020; church attendance has more than doubled; and church facilities have had renovation.
“My first contact with Fellowship was in December 2018 on a visit. I knew God wanted me to pastor, after being an assistant pastor in Charleston, West Virginia. I prayed to be in church revitalization.
“It (Fellowship) was a dated facility. I made it clear before they took a vote that the church was not as it was, but there would be a revitalization effort.”
In May, 2019, Sunday attendance averaged 90 people.
“I’ve heard not to make big changes in the first three years. I threw that plan out and wanted them to trust me,” Jett said.
On January 26, 2020, Jett laid out his vision for Fellowship Baptist.
“I was brutally honest. I told them the church declined because of an inward focus. I said the church tried to do too much in the past and spread volunteers too thin. Our area had seen growth, but our church was not going into the community. We decided that day to double our missional effort and intentionally engage our community. We changed how we handled finances and updated our facilities.
“I figured I might lose 30 percent of the church, but after the vision meeting, long time members said they had been praying for this and couldn’t wait. We voted, and it was 100 percent to go forward with the changes.”
By March, 2020, attendance was 140. Then Covid-19 closed them until May, 2020.
“We used that time to totally remodel the auditorium, replacing pews with chairs. We redesigned and remodeled the children’s area to update our accountability. We did surface redecorating of the educational hall with paint and new flooring.”
Part of stepping up the mission effort included purchasing land in Oaxaca, Mexico, during the pandemic for a satellite church – Fellowship Baptist Church, Oaxaca. It is being funded totally in-house, and the expected completion date is late spring 2021.
The church also added an associate pastor and youth pastor during the COVID-19 crisis.
During the shutdown, rather than overwhelm Facebook with a live broadcast, Fellowship recorded the worship team and Jett’s message on Thursdays, and emailed it to church members on Sundays and uploaded it to Facebook.
“The Sunday before we opened back up, the deacons thought there might be 75 people. I said it would be about 80. After being closed for eleven weeks, we had 187 people. We’ve had several Sundays since (with) of over 200 people. It’s a God thing,” Jett said.
Now there is a new issue. Fellowship will add a service to accommodate growing attendance, as there are only 250 seats.
“We have 30 to 40 people still quarantined. When they get back, we have to have two services.
“My family (including wife and two daughters) moved to the Midwest 540 miles away to take a dying church. Nothing made sense at the time of uprooting and moving, but I felt peace. We stepped out in faith to do this. God blesses those who put their faith in Him,” Jett said.