78-year-old Jerry Milam enjoying fruits of new church start in Lyles

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Nancy and Jerry Milam stand outside the Pizza Junction in Lyles. The restaurant serves as the home of New Life Baptist Church which celebrated its first anniversary on March 13. Milam is a 78-year-old church planter.

Nancy and Jerry Milam stand outside the Pizza Junction in Lyles. The restaurant serves as the home of New Life Baptist Church which celebrated its first anniversary on March 13. Milam is a 78-year-old church planter.

LYLES — Statistics indicate that the average church planter is somewhere in his late 20s to his mid-30s, according to Lewis McMullen, church planting specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

If that’s the case, Jerry Milam acknowledges (with a grin), “I’m well above average.”

Milam, 78, is pastor of New Life Baptist Church in the Hickman County town of Lyles. The church celebrated its first anniversary on March 13.

He began the church with about 25 people after serving as pastor of smaller, traditional churches for more than 50 years. Milam had envisioned retiring last May from Wrigley Baptist Church in Lyles, a congregation he had served three different times for a total of 33 years. “I was going to sit on the back pew and rest, but it didn’t work out that way,” he recalled. [Read more…]



By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

151-Reaching-TNBRENTWOOD — Since the 1-5-1 Harvest Plants strategy was introduced about three years ago, Tennessee Baptists have seen an increase in both church starts and baptisms.

1-5-1 was the brainchild of Bobby Welch, former associate executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention who retired last summer. 1-5-1 Harvest Plants are off-campus efforts (outside the four walls of the church) geared toward people who don’t know Christ as their Savior for the purpose of sharing the gospel, discipling people, and starting churches. [Read more…]



Five Objectives 5 ObjectivesBRENTWOOD – The staff of the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention has been realigned in order to assist churches in accomplishing the Five Objectives.

The Five Objectives were adopted by messengers at the Summit in 2014 at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood as long-range goals for the convention. [Read more…]



Baptist Press

151209new-churches1NASHVILLE (BP) — America is launching new Protestant churches faster than it loses old ones, attracting many people who previously didn’t attend anywhere, new LifeWay Research studies show.

More than 4,000 new churches opened their doors in 2014, outpacing the 3,700 that closed, according to estimates from the Nashville-based research organization based on input from 34 denominational statisticians.

And on average 42 percent of those worshipping at churches launched since 2008 previously never attended church or hadn’t attended in many years, LifeWay Research found in an analysis of 843 such churches from 17 denominations and church planting networks.

The church planting study indicates newly planted churches are more effective than existing ones at drawing people who aren’t connected with a church, said Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research executive director.

“In winning new converts to Christ, church plants are light-years ahead of the average church because of their focus on reaching the unchurched,” Stetzer said.

Characteristics of success

151209new-churches2Successful church launches have several factors in common, the 2015 National Church Planting Study shows:

— Meeting in a public space. New churches meeting in schools have significantly higher worship attendance than other new churches. They report more new first-time commitments to Christ and are more likely to become financially self-sufficient.

— Focusing on outreach. New churches offering sports leagues, social gatherings and children’s special events are significantly more likely than other startups to be congregations with a majority of people who previously did not attend church.

— Supporting their leaders. Adequate compensation and health insurance for the church planter are linked to higher worship attendance and a greater likelihood of financial independence for the new church.

— Starting more churches. New churches that invest in church planting and launch at least one additional new church in the first five years report higher worship attendance and more new commitments to Christ.

“Healthy new churches have an outward focus from day one, communicating every month that the goal is to be a multiplying church,” Stetzer said.

Back to basics

Though some pastors bristle at new churches coming into their community, they have more to learn — and less to fear — from the startup down the street, Stetzer said.

One lesson is the value of time-tested methods. While most church plants use the Internet for outreach, 77 percent say word of mouth and personal relationships are the most effective forms of publicity. Only 6 percent say social media is most effective. Nearly two-thirds of new churches (63 percent) say Bible study is their primary small group activity.

“It’s not the most innovative things that matter most. It’s the nuts and bolts,” Stetzer said.

“An existing church can take notice and ask, ‘Hey, are we doing those things? Are we making sure people in the community know we exist? Are we inviting people to come and making them feel welcome and all those things a church plant does?'”

In addition, Stetzer said, new churches can attract demographic groups that may be largely unreached by existing ones. Sixty percent of church plants aim to reach a cross-cultural or multiethnic group of people from the outset.

“It takes multiple methods to reach a diverse population,” Stetzer said. “The United States from its founding has been a very diverse population. A one-size-fits-all church has never been part of the American equation.

“As much as ever, we need different approaches to reach different types of people.”

Additional reports from the study will be available at

Methodology: The 2015 National Church Planting Study report analyzes 843 churches started in 2008 or later that continue to exist today. The study was sponsored by 17 denominations and church planting networks that participate in the Church Planting Leadership Fellowship: Assemblies of God, Baptist Missionary Association of America, Center for U.S. Missions (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod), Christian and Missionary Alliance, Converge Worldwide, Evangelical Free Church of America, Free Methodist Church USA, International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Texas District, New Thing Network, North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention), Presbyterian Church in America, Project Jerusalem, Path1 (United Methodist Church), Southern Baptists of Texas, Vineyard Church and The Wesleyan Church. Lists of church plants were provided by the sponsors and the Church of the Nazarene and the Missionary Church. From May-August 2015, planters were individually invited to complete the online survey by email, phone and postcard. Factors associated with church planting success were determined after controlling for church demographics, denomination/church planting network, U.S. state, church planter characteristics and other characteristics.

Estimates of the number of 2014 Protestant church starts and closures are based on unofficial reports LifeWay Research gathered from 34 denominations that represent 55 percent of U.S. Protestant churches. The pattern in this large sample was applied to the non-reporting and non-denominational groups to provide the overall estimate.


Why Plant New Churches in Tennessee?

By Jimmy Inman
Teaching Pastor in Jefferson City

Of the many questions we were asked about starting a church in east Tennessee, one of the most common ones was, “Why are you starting a church where there are already so many churches?” It is a legitimate question. My scriptural conviction is that every church is called to be a part of planting new churches locally, nationally, and internationally, and our church is doing that. Here are some basic biblical reasons why I believe this is true. [Read more…]


Do We Really Need More Churches?

By Randy C. Davis
TBC Executive Director

Randy C. Davis

Randy C. Davis

There are churches everywhere in Nashville.

Let’s take a ride. For instance, nine large churches sit adjacent to Franklin Road in a two-mile stretch if you drive north from Old Hickory in Brentwood. If you drive south another two or three miles through Brentwood you can add another five large churches, bringing the total to 13 just in that one short stretch. Travel that distance east to west and you can add probably a dozen more. Expand the circle to the greater Nashville area and word is there is easily more than 1,000 churches. It begs the question: Do we really need any more churches?

The short and emphatic answer is … yes! [Read more…]