Marty Baker, D.Min.
My name is Marty Baker, and I am the Lead Pastor of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, GA. In November 1987, my wife Patty and I started the church with 24 people in a borrowed living room in Edgefield County, South Carolina. We had a passion to reach our community for the Lord. In those days, we were encouraged by the words of Jesus when He said, “Look unto the fields for they are white unto harvest.” We wanted to be a church of the harvest. We shared a vision of reaching this community for Jesus Christ. We shared a common hope that lost people could be found and broken people could be healed. God honored our efforts and anointed our ministry.
Shortly after we started, we moved out of the house, into a hotel and then to a small church building. We completed the first year of ministry with an average attendance of 90 people. After four years, we averaged 97 people. It was during this season that I became frustrated and cried out to the Lord saying, "Why isn't my church growing?" To my surprise God responded by saying, "Marty, I have called you to reach lost people and you are not doing it." I had to admit to the Lord that I did not know how to grow a church. I knew how to "have church" but I did not know how to "lead a church to grow."
Over the next several years, my idea of ministry changed. God reshaped my heart and my ministry. He opened our eyes to the community. We became an outreach-focused church. We started building relationships with un-churched people and little by little, people started coming to faith.
In 2000, the church moved to our new location on Stevens Creek Road. With this new location, God opened new opportunities to reach the community for Christ. The dream of reaching the harvest became a reality. Hundreds and Hundreds of people have been saved, baptized and joined the church. Today, the congregation averages over 2,000 people in weekly attendance and recently set an attendance record on Easter 2016 of 4,500 people. Today, Stevens Creek Church of God is a healthy church with a heart to love God, love people and serve the world. I am honored to serve the kind and generous people of The Creek.
That's my story, but this blog is not about me. It's about the denomination, the Church of God, headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee. I joined the church as a teenager and I have grown to love and appreciate the people and the ministries of the Church of God. In short, it's my spiritual family and not only that, it is the oldest Pentecostal denomination in the world. We boast of over 7 million members world wide and of course, I have never met all of them, but one day I will. In the USA, we have around 6,000 local churches and around 600 hundred of those are in the state of Georgia. Stevens Creek is in the North Georgia Conference of the Church of God denomination.
In July 2016, the Church of God will convene in Nashville, Tennessee for their General Assembly. During the Assembly week, the General Council will convene to nominate candidates for the positions of the General Executive Committee and the Council of 18. I have been on the General Council floor for the last twelve General Assemblies. One of the frustrating parts of casting a vote is that I have voted for many people that I don't know. It's the nature of the process. This blog is designed to do at least two things: to introduce you to a sampling of fine men in the movement of the Church of God and secondly to encourage you, if you are an Ordained Bishop, to consider praying about casting a vote for a young leader in our movement.
We need capable, anointed next generational leaders to help lead our denomination into the future. We are in a dangerous place and we need to be intentional as we make decisions that will direct our movement. This blog is not against older leaders; it's about giving young leaders an opportunity to lead.
I am not writing this in rebellion. I am heavily invested in this movement. Stevens Creek Church is one of the largest contributors to the Church of God State program in the North Georgia Conference and we recently moved into the top ten in the nation. We are invested. This is not about rebellion. This is about vision; it's about reaching the next generation for Christ. Please, join with me in prayer. Share this blog and most of all, think young.
NOTE: None of the men mentioned in this blog asked me for their support. This is my opinion and does not represent the opinion of the Church of God nor Stevens Creek Church. I want to say "Thanks" to the website: www.ga16.org for providing the names and file numbers for these men.