Alabama Church Works to Become a Revitalized Church by Forming Ministry Partnerships to Meet the Needs of the Neighborhood

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — When Rob Paul first got to Huffman Baptist Church in Birmingham in July 2019, he spent several months talking with church members and “getting the lay of the land.”

One question kept coming up: “I was looking at this huge building and thinking, ‘What are we going to do with this?’”

In its heyday, the church ran about 1,500 in worship, but when Paul came on as lead pastor, around 125 came through the doors on Sundays.

“At this point we had shut down over half of our usable space,” he said. “Our three-story education building and two-story children’s building were completely shuttered.”

ADVANCING THE GOSPEL

So he began to lead the church to look at the community around them and think about what they could do to reach the next generation of neighbors.

“We started to ask, ‘How can we use the space that we have in a way that advances the gospel and benefits the community?’” Paul recalled. “We started looking at how do we as a diverse congregation but still mostly white, how do we impact a community that is flipped what our church is? We have as many as 75,000 people within a 10-minute drive, and 70% of them don’t look like me.”

In January 2020, he presented a plan called Vision 2025 — a plan to become a revitalized church that helped revitalize other churches. He wanted to consider ministry partnerships that would help them meet the needs of the neighborhood.

And he started praying for God to send the church one young family with children — a contact point to begin reaching others in the community.

PRAY BIG

But these days, Paul says in retrospect that his prayer was too small. Earlier this year they began preparing the third floor of the adult education building to become a community ministry hub. That space now is home to Elevate Birmingham, an organization that teaches character-based education at Huffman High School and tutors students off campus after school; Birmingham Urban East Young Life, which runs Christian-based clubs aimed at helping students know Christ and prepare for their futures; and Kingdom Family Christian Fellowship, an African American church plant.

The church has partnered with Kingdom Family and Christian Service Mission to provide food boxes to neighbors once a month.

And this summer more than one family is moving in — there is a whole school.

Starting Aug. 1, Banks Academy, a predominantly African American Christian high school, will hold classes in the two buildings that previously were shuttered.

It’s all left Paul, the church’s pastoral staff and the rest of the leadership team and congregation amazed.

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Source: Baptist Press