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Church Triples Attendance Since Acts 2 Journey

Pastors Tim and Ann Black take a church that is within months of closing its doors, but through using the Acts 2 Journey, the church not only recovers and begins to impact its community, but triples in size!

Pastors Tim and Ann Black had 30 years in ministry when they stepped into the role of senior pastor at Evangelistic Centre in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in June 2013. At that time, the church was just a few months away from closing its doors, but the congregation was willing to do whatever it took to prevent this from happening.

Having served as a district leader in Arizona, Tim was very familiar with the Acts 2 Journey. "I even spoke about it when I was interviewing for the senior pastorate at the church," he says. "I knew that it would benefit the ministry of the church if we took advantage of the opportunity early on during this time of natural transition."

In the Acts 2 Journey, pastors and their selected Vision Teams commit to a one-year journey of development (four weekend retreats) that includes in-depth training, personal coaching, meaningful connecting, prayer, visioneering, and strategic planning.

"The church was on life support," Black explains. "Because of my previous knowledge of Acts 2, I immediately started applying some of those concepts after I became pastor. I knew we [the leadership team] couldn't wait till we could go through Acts 2. We had to start doing something quickly."

Within four months, the church leaders believed they not only needed operational and ministry changes, they also needed to consider a name change. Evangelistic Centre was changed to Emerald Coast Church AG. 

"We also changed up the service on Sunday," Black says. "We started having Sunday night leadership meetings every month. We began to get the church to look outward, instead of being so focused inward."

One missional statement for Emerald Coast Church AG is, "Church Starts When the Service Is Over!"

"The church is not a building . . . it is us," Black says. "We do not come to a building to experience the presence of Jesus. He lives in us, and wherever we go, He goes with us."

Emerald Coast Church AG is now a missions-focused congregation, participating in various outreaches in the surrounding community. The church is active in evangelism outreach at the nearby beaches and conducts assemblies in local public schools to encourage positive life choices.

The new community focus of the church is helping attract new people from multiple cultures and all generations. "We tell the church our congregation needs to reflect the crowd that goes to Walmart," Black explains. "This is happening."

The Acts 2 Journey has helped give the leadership team the vision they need to embrace the process of church revitalization and transformation. In spring 2013, church attendance averaged 41. Now that number has tripled, and the church is considering adding another Sunday morning service.

"On Easter Sunday this year, 201 people attended the Sunday service. This may have been the largest crowd in the history of the church," Black says.

Black encourages other leaders to participate in Acts 2. "Even though I have been in ministry for 30 years, I know that I still have a lot to learn."

To date, AGTrust has provided Acts 2 Initiative scholarships for 212 churches like Emerald Coast AG. Altogether, 487 churches in 22 districts and one overseas country have participated in the one-year Acts 2 Journey sponsored by Church Transformation Initiative (formerly Healthy Church Network).