Index Magazine: Georgia's Bethlehem Church experiencing exceptional growth


BETHLEHEM, Ga.— Those who drove east on Highway 316 to the University of Georgia football games last fall may not have noticed Georgia Baptists’ largest church in worship attendance. Pastor Jason Britt and his excellent staff have been faithfully serving Christ and doing their work without much notice from those outside the Barrow, Oconee, and Walton County area, yet mobilizing hundreds of people to build one of the fastest-growing churches in America.

The church reported a worship attendance of 5,800 in 2023, but on recent Sundays they have exceeded 6,000 in attendance in multiple services in three campus churches – the main 316 Campus, their 211 Campus, and their Oconee Campus. Bryan Nowak, iGo Database Manager for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, explained, “Of the churches reporting an Annual Church Profile (ACP) in 2023, they (Bethlehem) are number one in average worship each week.

The Bethlehem Church has been listed among the fastest-growing churches in America by Outreach Magazine several years in a row. Last year it had a 22% growth rate.

Pastor Britt takes no credit for the phenomenal growth, stating, “It is nothing but the favor of the Lord. Our focus is on worship and the Word. Our goal is to be the pillar of the community so that if our church were not here, they would know it.

“We have championed the next generation, serving our community at all costs, and we fight for health, not growth. We desire to be a healthy church over a big church.”

The church has significantly impacted the surrounding area by hosting a variety of community events, and the church’s special needs program for disadvantaged children has been overwhelmingly received by the community.

Jon Reed, Georgia Baptist evangelist, who is a member of Bethlehem, remarked, “Jason loves people, takes time to know them, spends time with them, and has the ability to keep up with all of them. I see him everywhere in the community. He is a true pastor through and through. It is truly inspiring to see his gifts. He challenges me to be as good of an evangelist as he is a pastor.

“Jason knows that the success we have experienced as a church is not because of him. He reminds all of us that we are all stewards of this great blessing.

“I can attest that I have never been to a worship service or ministry event at Bethlehem without God speaking directly to me through the message, the worship, and the people there.”

Larry Wynn, former pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula and current executive director of the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation, commented, “Jason grew up at Hebron Baptist Church. His dad was a very close friend and served as associate pastor there. Jason was our college pastor. He reminds me of his dad in so many ways. He is an excellent leader, a Gospel preacher, and his messages connect with people who are searching as well as the mature believer.

“God has blessed Bethlehem with incredible growth, but Jason is the same today as he was when he started in the ministry. He relates extremely well with people in the church and the community. He is not known by titles. People know him as Jason. That is huge.”

Jason was called to be the pastor of Bethlehem in 2011 when the church had 400 in worship. Now he preaches three times on Sunday morning and on Thursday evening and his sermons are live-streamed to the other two church sites where three worship services are held each Sunday morning.

The phenomenal growth of the church and the Bethlehem Christian Academy, which is a vital part of the church’s ministry and outreach to the community has inspired the church to purchase 37 acres of land two miles east of the church to construct a facility that will accommodate the growing congregation.

The Bethlehem Christian Academy has agreed to purchase the property of the 316 Church campus for $7 million. This purchase will permit the Academy to expand their enrollment from the current 900 students to 1200.

Jason explained that the Academy’s purchase of the church’s property allowed the church to take the first step in the journey of relocating the main campus. The new facility will have 90,000 square feet of space. Future expansion plans include enlarging the lobby and next gen space for the 211 campus and worship and next gen space for the Oconee campus.

The giving of the church has been exceptional. The pastor stated, “Our goal was to raise $27 million over two years and we ended up at $38 million in pledges. The goal is to be in the new building by the end of this year."

In a video produced by the church, Jeremy and Brittany Dupree are pictured in an outdoor setting discussing their commitment to the Be/Cause building initiative. Jeremy said, “We were walking through the woods one day and talking about the Be/Cause initiative and how great it is going to be and how many more people we will be able to reach. Brittany did not inform me beforehand, but indicated that through her recent prayers she felt that we should give five times more than we had originally agreed to give.”

It has been the sacrificial giving of the Duprees that has characterized the spirit of the church in this relocation/building enterprise.

Jason declared, “We are in this together. We can accomplish more for the kingdom – all together as a community of faith – that is what the church is. Believing for the future, being faithful in the present is our goal, because we believe that ‘the immeasurably more than God has’ will blow our minds and we are positioning ourselves as a church to see a move of God like we have never seen before.”

The Bethlehem pastor concluded by stating, “Jesus is true to His Word that He will build His church, and in our leadership we are doing our best to cooperate with where His Spirit is leading Bethlehem.”