By David Dawson
CLARKSVILLE — Demonstrating bold faith, Ronny Raines believed his church would need only one day to eliminate its building debt.
And he was right.
Raines, pastor of First Baptist Church Clarksville, recently guided the church through a “One Day” campaign — and it produced miraculous results. Using Hebrews 11:6 as the theme, the church raised $1.3 million on Sunday, Oct. 24.
“Our church saw the faithfulness of God and the generosity of His people,” said Raines. “It was an historic day for FBC Clarksville. God showed up in powerful ways. It’ll be a day that people will talk about for years to come.”
He said the name of the campaign had a special significance: “I cast a vision to celebrate the church’s 190th birthday and eliminate the church’s total indebtedness — in one day,” he said. “We knew this was a big vision for FBC Clarksville.”
The campaign officially launched on Sunday, July 11, when Raines and former FBC pastor Roger Freeman “tag-teamed” the sermon. The morning worship service was held that day in the church’s old Faith Sanctuary that was built in 1917, and it drew a standing-room-only crowd.
Weeks later, on the morning of Oct. 24, the congregation gathered in Grace Worship Center, where a large chest was placed in front of the sanctuary, and members were invited to come forward to submit their offerings. Raines said it was an emotional time and that lives were changed that morning.
“It’s biblical to sing together, to pray together, to fellowship together and to give together,” Raines said. “I’ve had countless conversations with church members. Many of them talked about the blessing of seeing kids, students, singles, couples and families come forward and give to the Lord and His church. It was a sight that they’ll never forget.”
Raines said the Holy Spirit was on display: “We testify that the Lord did this. He fulfilled Ephesians 3:20-21 right before our eyes,” Raines said.
When Raines originally accepted the call to become pastor at FBC, he provided the church with five goals that he wanted to see accomplished in his first year. One of the goals was to eliminate the debt.
Soon, the concept for the One Day campaign emerged. It started with a “kick-off” event on July 11, followed by a series of more than 20 “dessert fellowships” that were hosted by different groups from the church.
“Those fellowships allowed me to meet with small groups of our church family and cast the vision,” Raines said. “I also met with our kids and students on two Sunday mornings. I challenged them to give sacrificial offerings, too.”
Raines said a teenager from the church committed to giving $100 to the One Day offering. When the day arrived, however, the teen actually gave $300.
“He said the Lord led him to give all the money he had,” Raines said. “What a testimony!”
Raines said he wanted the church to understand the importance of paying off the debt, and he outlined his thoughts with five main reasons: (1) Allowing God to be glorified; (2) Witnessing to the larger community; (3) Cultivating new levels of generosity; (4) Improving the other church facilities; and (5) Freeing up the next generation.
With the debt now paid, Raines said the church can begin to focus on new ministries.
“We plan to do deferred maintenance on our other facilities,” he said. “We also plan to look at remodeling another section of our church campus. Our goal is to house IMB missionaries and ministry interns in the future in that facility.”
Raines said he could feel the momentum building among the church members from the very beginning of the campaign.
“I sensed enthusiasm from them,” he said, noting that FBC Clarksville has a rich history of paying off debt. “This was a vision that the people embraced.”
He said the foundation is now in place for similar stories in the future.
“I believe this will lead to greater levels of generosity among God’s people,” he said. B&R