I wanted to share with you all, a letter to you all from my friend and fellow pastor, Tony Lankford. Tony serves as pastor to Park Avenue Baptist in Atlanta, GA. Park Avenue began their missional journey several years ago with IT’S TIME.
Dear Madison Heights Baptist Church,
I know you all are preparing to embark upon the It’s Time journey. As a pastor that has led a church through the series I just wanted to encourage you to be wide open to how the Spirit may work in powerful ways.
A little about Park Avenue Baptist Church. PABC is a historic church in the Grant Park neighborhood of downtown Atlanta. Grant Park is a neighborhood that went through great demographic change beginning in the 1970’s. The church (they will admit this), however, did not respond very missionally to the demographic change. Park Avenue slowly declined from a church of 500+ to a church averaging 8 older adults upon my arrival 7 years ago.
Around a year into my pastorate we went through an intentional discernment process using It’s Time as our guide. The process was life changing for us. We came out of those months with a renewed vision and passion to use our resources in creative missional ways and seek to intentionally develop a ministry that connects with the current residents of our community.
Six years later we still have lasting results of our It’s Time process. After It’s Time we partnered with a community member to open a non-profit preschool. This preschool not only gives us an opportunity to connect with families we may never see, it is a practical way to help support the very real cost of our facility.
Grant Park is a very multi cultural area. Our worshipping congregation has grown into a very racially, economically, and generationally diverse congregation where the Spirit is moving. We give all praise to God that we have baptized seven people so far this summer alone.
Knowing we could not minister to everyone, after It’s Time we decided to give our chapel to a Hispanic church plant, a congregation that is also growing and successfully ministering to the large Hispanic population in the area.
Perhaps the greatest outcome of It’s Time has been our Lydia’s House ministry. As a direct out growth of the It’s Time process we decided to renovate a portion of our building to host and encourage mission groups to come and serve in downtown Atlanta. We had no idea if anyone would even respond to our willingness to host, all we knew was that through the It’s Time process this is were the Spirit was leading. Well, since its inception, our Lydia’s House has hosted groups that have given over 40,000 hours of ministry service within the city of Atlanta.
We give God all praise and honor for these things. Though I am proud of the Park Ave. congregation and the hard work and sacrifices they have made, I do not write to uplift them. I write to uplift you and with every fiber of my spirit encourage you to be open and willing to follow the Spirit of God into the missional future God has in store for you. If God can take a church of 8 people and do what God has done here….I can hardly imagine how God could wonderfully work with a church that has all the blessings of Madison Heights.
Rev. Tony Lankford, pastor
Park Avenue Baptist Church- Atlanta, GA