Levi Skipper encourages Georgia churches to 'Ride the Waves'


CUMMING, Ga. – Churches that prepare for seasonal increases in attendance can experience major growth, a Georgia denominational leader said Sunday.

Levi Skipper, head of the church strengthening team at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said congregations typically see predictable increases  at various times of the year, including Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and at the start of each new school year.

“When the New Year rolls around, you have more people show up, just like they do at the gym,” Skipper told church leaders at the Mission Board’s annual evangelism conference in Cumming. “Some have made New Year’s resolutions to go to church. If you don’t take advantage of that, they’ll roll out just like they do at the gym. They’ll start off strong then disappear. You have to be ready to get them plugged in.”

Skipper explained his “Ride the Waves” strategy to church leaders during a training session Sunday evening at the third of the Mission Board’s three regional evangelism conferences, which has drawn some 1,500 church leaders to sites in Macon, Tifton and Cumming.

The Cumming event is set to continue Monday at First Baptist Church. Scheduled preachers include:

– JJ Washington, evangelism catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

– Mark Clifton, senior director of replanting and rural strategy for the North American Mission Board.

– Joel Southerland, lead pastor at Peavine Baptist Church in Rossville, Ga.

– Steve Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church outside Memphis, Tenn.

– H.B. Charles Jr., senior pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

Skipper said annual church attendance, when plotted on a line graph, will typically show a series of rises and falls that look like waves.

To take advantage of the rises, Skipper recommended churches create a “Ride the Waves” committee of five to seven people, making sure to include a key influencer from the congregation as well as a strategic thinker, a recruiter, an encourager and a creative person who will think outside the box.

Skipper challenged churches to ask what actions will be needed to prepare for a wave. It could mean things like expanding classroom space for adult Bible studies or recruiting more volunteers for the children’s programs, he said.

In his presentation, Skipper encouraged churches leaders to set specific goals for each wave they attempt to ride. That goals could involve baptisms or discipleship.

“Be sure to make the stated objectives measurable,” he said.