What happens when a small-town church focuses on men? Read this letter from Billie Keller, a woman who serves as administrator of New Beginnings Community Church, a Free Methodist congregation in upstate New York:
Wampsville (population 542) is in Madison County, New York, an economically-challenged farming community where 51 percent of the people underemployed or unemployed. Most of the churches are small, averaging approximately 60 attendees. Many are on the brink of closing.
Our Pastor, Leroy “Skip” Hellmig, realized in 2010 that all the area churches in Madison County have only about 25 percent men in active membership. New Beginnings is a church of approximately 400 (which is very large for this rural area).
The staff attended a conference at Christ Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2007 through the Beeson Institute. The Holy Spirit spoke to us through Pastor Don Wilson’s vision of reaching men at his church. We have made subtle changes to the church to move in the direction of attracting men.
Our Lead Pastor has shown the video by David Murrow, “Why Men Hate Going to Church” to the Board of Administration as a training tool. The church Board unanimously agreed to reinvent ourselves to reach men of Madison County that have traditionally avoided church.
Our goal was to have 55 percent of attendees be men. The number of men has grown to 51 percent most weekends. Our teen group, which partners with other area churches and meets at New Beginnings, has approximately 75 percent young men in attendance. Seventy percent of our attendees claim that this is their first meaningful church relationship. We are reaching the lost!
Our ministries and strategies include an annual series of messages geared toward men (which includes motorcycles and sports cars in the lobby and worship center). The sermons each week and church communications to the congregation all are designed to appeal to men. The interior décor of the church and the worship have been redesigned to appeal to men. We removed flowers and doilies; we hung a big screen television in the lobby to run announcements; we changed the paint colors; we challenged the worship teams to select music to which men can relate and sing, etc.
Our Pastor started a “Man-Up Bible Study” with six new men to the church. That group has grown to 18 and has two separate meeting nights. We plan to add a third group in September. The group has grazing time, small talk, and inductive Bible Study. Sixteen of the men have joined church and have been involved. Two of the men are from a neighboring church and would eventually like to start a group at their church.
Other churches in our area continue to focus on women’s ministries. Our niche is men. God is blessing us in this area, and we are following His lead. We believe that men set the tone in the home, and they need to man-up and be the husbands and fathers that God intended for them to be.
Our push for men to “man-up” has impacted our friends in other churches as well as our own. Other Pastors in the community have asked us what we are doing to attract so many men.
Our Lead Pastor is a 13+ year veteran police officer from Baltimore and has served 17 years as the Chaplain of Madison County Sheriff’s Department. He also spent over 20 years on active duty and reserves in the US Military. Our Associate Pastor is Chaplain of the Oneida Police Department. Men follow men. Both of our Pastors are men’s men and now use that to their advantage to promote the Gospel to other men.
With all the above mentioned about men, as a woman, I am happy to report that the women of New Beginnings are happy that their men are “manning up” and being what God has called them to be. You can check us out on Facebook: New Beginnings Community Church, Wampsville, New York.
Please consider our church as one of the churches that attracts men!
Billie Elaine Keller, Administrator
New Beginnings Community Church
PO Box 30
Wampsville, New York 13163