Globalization, urbanization and biblical priorities

Editor's Note: This analysis was submitted by the International Mission Board leading up to this year's Week of Prayer for International Missions Nov. 29-Dec. 6. The theme is "Because of Who He Is" from Psalm 96:3 (HCSB).

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) – God deserves the worship of all people, and the Gospel is the only hope for the billions of people who have yet to hear.

This is why we go to unreached peoples and places: to share with those who live in hard places – sprawling cities, arid deserts, dense jungles and war-torn villages – where very few or no disciples are proclaiming the truth about Jesus in a way that can be understood.

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Can church budgets be visionary and rewarding?

NASHVILLE (BP) – The church budgeting process ranks fairly low on the list of a minister's most motivating and inspiring experiences. Pastors will line up to deliver a message, shepherd the hurting, pray for the wayward and lead the body forward. However, if a pastor lies awake at night thinking of the church budget, it's often for the wrong reasons.

For many churches, the budgeting process begins with ministry leaders submitting their annual requests for funds. Some underestimate their budget needs; others inflate their numbers because they don't expect to receive their full request.

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Epoch Church: new building, new chapter after 10 years

Epoch Church was planted 10 years ago in the heart of downtown Little Rock. The church recently relocated to a new, larger, more conducive building. Renovations to the building were completed, in large part, thanks to church members or friends and partners of the church. Nathan James and Grant Harrison, the church’s co-pastors, hope the building will allow the church to better connect with their community and see lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Above photo by Caleb Yarbrough. Photos below by Grant Harrison highlight Epoch Church’s new facility and renovations to it.

Caleb Yarbrough
Arkansas Baptist News

LITTLE ROCK – A proper facility can go a long way in helping a local church minister to their community. For Epoch Church, Little Rock, the right building was long in coming but part of God’s timing.

JamesNathan James and Grant Harrison are Epoch Church’s co-pastors. The long-time friends started the church 10 years ago, in July 2005, in an effort to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the heart of downtown Little Rock.

Over the past few years, the church began to outgrow their storefront location and began seriously searching for a larger space. However, finding an affordable location on Main Street in the state’s largest city was easier said than done.

The church first looked at the building that they now occupy in December 2013.

“We had been working for over a year trying to get that building. And through numerous miracles, … what looked like an impossible task from every front turned into an awesome opportunity to receive a blessing,” said James.

Harrison“The timing couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Harrison. “We were just waiting on Him (God), and He lined everything up perfect for us.”

“We’d been blessed for 10 years, and we knew there was some change that needed to take place on a lot of different fronts. It was kind of just the perfect transition to allow us to change and be transformed for the next chapter we believe God has for our church,” said James.

James said God used the process of finding and renovating a new church facility to bring the congregation together and strengthen their faith.

“We knew God was really trying to grow us up in some areas, and He did. And He is still in that process,” said James.

James said that the new location is more visible to the surrounding community, provides much needed space to host services and children’s ministry activities and has lots of room for the church to expand in the future. Since they began meeting in the location about a month ago, the church’s Sunday morning worship attendance has already grown by 20-30 people. 

“There is no way we could have 100 people in our other place, and we do it here. … We have had a lot more guests show up,” said Harrison. “Nothing wrong with our place. We loved it. It was a great place for us for
so many years. But we were really limited to what we could do.”

One of the major challenges Epoch Church was facing in their previous storefront location was a lack of space and security for their children’s ministry. James said that the new building has allowed the church enough room for their current children’s ministry to thrive and to grow.

“Already – we’ve been in this place for a month – my kid is coming home and telling me the stuff that he has learned at church. And the teachers are so excited. Their 3-, 4- and 2-year-olds are actually learning about the Lord. We’re able to do that now,” said Harrison.

“In a way, this building is allowing us to invest in the next generation in a way that we really couldn’t do at the other place, at least very well,” he said.

“Our kids are going to be able to have a safer, more conducive environment. We are too for our corporate gatherings. And guests will now feel like there is a place for them,” said James. “Outside of these walls, we’re just now scratching the surface of how we can use this place to reach into the community and let them use our space and then use our space to serve them.”

Epoch Church held an open house Oct. 17 in which they invited the surrounding community, including surrounding businesses, to come see the church’s new home.

“They (local businesses) are interested in the fact that we purchased a building that was vacant for so many years and we’ve renovated it and we are using it. … We try to say that this is a place that we want to be community-focused and for people in the community to be able to use as a service to them,” said Harrison.

In addition to providing a way for the church to purchase the new building, God also provided Epoch Church with ministry partners including the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, North Pulaski Baptist Association and numerous partner churches and individuals throughout the greater Southern Baptist Convention who helped make the renovations to the facility possible.

“Partnering churches, our people and individuals who believe in the church have either worked or given of their time, energy and money,” said James. “Comparing what was done to our budget, it’s night and day.”
“It’s really humbling to us as pastors to see people willing to do this for our community,” said Harrison.

“‘Epoch’ means ‘a memorable time of change,’ and we are focused on a spiritual change that happens in people’s hearts.”

The church has nearly completed the first of three phases of development planned for their new building. Phase one consisted of exterior paint and renovation and interior renovation of the building’s first floor. Phase two will consist of the renovation of the building’s second floor, which will be a multiuse area. Phase three consists of future additions to the church through the renovation of the building’s attached warehouse space.

“The Lord is doing some fun stuff, and we are just really trying to keep up. And that is kind of our motto right now – ‘Let the Lord work, and we are just trying to keep up,’” said Harrison.

“We want to see people’s lives changed and people come to know Jesus. That needs to be clear,” said James.

“Throughout our renovation process, I think it is safe to say, with some of the people that we were able to work with, that typically a pastor doesn’t get to cross paths with, we have been able to see some lives being changed. And that is something that people can pray for. … It is worth it just for those kind of things,” he said.

“That’s what we are praying for – the wind and breath of God’s Spirit to come in power and for us to just pull up a seat … and be faithful as we know He is,” said James.

Contact Caleb Yarbrough at


Halloween draws focus of new study

NASHVILLE (BP) – When it comes to Halloween, most Americans don't have a problem celebrating the spooky holiday, a new study shows. Yet, one-third say they avoid Halloween or its pagan elements.

Although 3 in 5 Americans told LifeWay Research that Halloween is "all in good fun," 21 percent avoid the holiday completely and another 14 percent avoid the pagan elements.

Halloween has been known in North America since colonial days. But it wasn't until Irish immigrants brought their Halloween customs to America in the 1840s that the festival grew in popularity. Since then, it has been woven into the fabric of American culture. By the 1950s, Halloween was mostly considered a children's holiday celebrated with costumes and candy.

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Study: Pastors grow more polarized on Islam

NASHVILLE (BP) – Protestant pastors are increasingly  polarized about Islam, with a growing share labeling the Muslim faith violent while a sharply rising minority calls it spiritually good, a new study shows.

Although a majority considers Islam dangerous, a small but increasing segment believes Islam is similar to Christianity, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research.

And two-thirds of Protestant pastors agree Christianity and Islam should seek to coexist in America.

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