Cascading goals at Shades Mountain Baptist Church in greater Birmingham have coalesced into what has become a redemptive river of Gospel missions.
Missional goals that started in 2002 mean that preschoolers then who have now grown up in the church have learned missional living.
“That’s all they know,” Pastor Danny Wood told SBC LIFE. “They think, ‘It’s natural to support missions, go on mission trips, and consider serving as a missionary as a life calling.’ Starting with their sixth-grade mission trip, they will have the opportunity to go on eleven mission trips by the time they graduate high school, with a number of them being international. Thus many of our students say, ‘Whatever [college] degree, I want it to be used for Kingdom purposes.’”
The church where about 2,200 people gather weekly for worship allocates 10 percent of undesignated offerings to support missions through the Cooperative Program, which links the efforts of Southern Baptist churches to state, national, and international missions.
“We believe in the Southern Baptist Convention and the work the Convention is doing,” Wood said. “We support the North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, the work of our state convention, and our seminaries. It’s just a part of who we are.”
Shades Mountain Baptist’s goal-setting started with a Facilities Master Plan capital campaign in 2002. That same year the 2010 Vision based on Acts 1:8 launched, challenging church members to live on mission, give to missions, and participate in mission projects.
And in March of that year, Shades Mountain hosted its first (now annual) Global Impact Celebration, which brought fifty missionaries onsite for five days in late winter. The event “radically affected the church body by allowing members to know missionaries personally and to partner with them in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection,” according to the church’s website.
“It [Vision 2010] just jettisoned our church to having a heart for missions,” Wood said. “Once a person goes on a mission trip, it changes their heart and their priorities. It affects both their going and their giving.”
With achievement of the goals for 2010, Wood presented Touch the World 2015, to “go into more of a partnership with some of the people we had met,” the pastor said.
While Touch the World 2015 was continuing, the church initiated a $7.5 million capital campaign in 2013 entitled Chapters. By the time 2018 rolled around, “we had invested $26 million in our facilities over fifteen years, completed our master plan, and at the same time given $34 million to missions and we were debt-free,” Wood said. “We had done ministry in all fifty states and eighty countries, sent 1,300 people a year on thirty-five mission trips, and now have about two hundred members who are serving in full-time missions around the world.
“We’ve also supported fifteen church plants internationally and thirty-one church plants in North America,” the pastor, who serves as president of the 2019 SBC Pastors’ Conference, said. “Our goal each year is that 25 percent of our total offerings goes to missions and ministries outside our church.”
Shades Mountain Baptist began to see more ways to impact Birmingham with the message of God’s unconditional love. They created a new staff position, minister of community engagement. In these last two and a half years they have adopted five local schools, gotten involved in chaplaincy with first responders, and increased their work in foster care/adoption. This is in addition to the thriving special needs ministry that Shades has had for twenty years.
“These last couple of years have been really exciting, both with taking the love of Jesus to our community and working with NAMB’s strategic vision,” Wood said. “We’re committed to continually supporting church plants in each of NAMB’s five regions.
“The next goal of that plan is to do ministry in every one of NAMB’s thirty-two Send Cities by 2025,” the pastor continued. “The reason I want to do that: I believe every city is important. I want our people to have the opportunity to travel to those cities and see the ministries going on. Our goal is that peoples’ hearts will be touched so they will not only be prayer partners for this church plant and its city, but some may feel God’s calling to move to that city and be a support to that church.”
Two families have already done so, Wood noted. One moved to Columbus, Ohio; the other, Denver, Colorado. Both now are helping with NAMB church plants.
Presently, Shades Mountain Baptist is in the first year of NEXT . . . The Time is Now. This initiative is about spiritual transformation and facility modification, the pastor said.
Its current goals for spiritual transformation extending to 2020: encouraging the congregation to engage the Scriptures by reading through the Bible; members having ten thousand Gospel conversations with people far from God and praying for 250 people to put their trust in Jesus for the first time; three thousand members on mission trips, including five hundred who’ve never been before; and giving sacrificially to the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
The facility modification is remodeling the thirty-year-old worship center to improve sight lines and provide more flexibility. In addition, they will repurpose the lobby by increasing its size by 30 percent to create more community spaces for fellowship.
Shades Mountain Baptist also is planting a collegiate church focused on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The Antioch Community Church is “relentlessly focused on reaching and discipling lost students,” some who will in time plant additional collegiate churches.
“The hope is that the students who graduate and get jobs in Birmingham will remain in the church and provide leadership,” Wood said. “There will be others, however, who will get the vision to move to other campuses and plant multiplying churches.”
This all coincides with the church’s mission statement: “Sending transformed people to influence their world for Christ.”
Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for SBC LIFE and Baptist Press and is a member of First Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove, Utah.