‘Family of friends’ heals relationships to serve rural community
Jan 15, 2013
By BARBARA DENMAN
Florida Baptist Convention

FRIENDS Alan Floyd, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Middleburg, who has since accepted a position in Alabama, with Jack Gibson at the Middleburg church. FBC photo
MIDDLEBURG (FBC)—Bryan Kallum of Middleburg was raised in a Florida Baptist church but in his adult years, he “veered off the path.” After the birth of his first child, a yearning to raise his family in a “better environment” led him to First Baptist Church.

Soon he realized his inner longing was not for the good a church could offer his family, but salvation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Now First Baptist Middleburg is “absolutely the core of our being,” Kallum said. He, his wife, who had no church background of her own, and their three children have all accepted Christ and were baptized by their pastor Alan Floyd. 

Since Floyd arrived at First Baptist Church of Middleburg nearly 13 years ago, the church has stirred the baptismal waters more than 100 times each year, with as many as 200 new Christians in 2010. 

First Baptist Church was a 100-year old medium sized church of about 400 people in attendance in a rural town 30 miles southwest of Jacksonville when Pastor Floyd arrived. 

“It was traditional, program driven and committee led,” he said. 

That is not the church it is today, he explained. “With much prayer, strategic thinking, and planning the church began to shift to a church that is culturally relevant and missional in purpose.”

A dozen years later, the church averages 1,800 people in worship on two campuses.

BLENDED At First Baptist Middleburg, people of all ages enjoy worship and fellowship. FBC photo
But transitioning the church took time and intentionality, he said.

When he was called to the church, Floyd found a congregation evenly divided when the previous pastor left after three months of duress.

Floyd led church members through a time of unity, healing and forgiveness by encouraging them as family—“a family of friends,” a moniker they still use today. “Families may disagree, but you treat them with respect and love,” he told them. Business meetings became “family nights.”

After that first year, he “slowly and intentionally” began to shift focus to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, and developed what he calls their DNA “C3”—connect to God, connect to others, and connect to a lost world. 

To more effectively connect to God, greater emphasis and intentionality was placed on worship and planning between the worship leader and pastor. 

Connecting to others was accomplished in Sunday School and small groups to build relationships, he noted, and encouraging church members to invite their friends. 

As the congregation connected with the lost world, “we became intentional about evangelism,” Floyd said. The church prayed for God to give them 100 souls every year, and still today holds outreach every Tuesday night, assigning small groups specific days to participate. 

Several years ago, the church tackled the concept of contemporary worship for the century-old traditional church. A contemporary “Café Service,” was created as “overflow” worship for teens and drew 75 in attendance at first. Soon attendance doubled and within four years grew to 600 each week. It now is the fastest growing service and accounts for the largest number of baptisms. 

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