A conversation with Tony Barber, pastor Church On The Bluff.
Atop the hill overlooking Tyler Road, Bluff Park Baptist Church has stood for many years. Pastor Tony Barber says the growth of the church has diminished over the years, especially with younger families, and that was an issue that needed to be addressed. “Lack of growth means that we were not ministering to the community as well as we should; we aren’t reaching them,” Pastor Barber says. “The people here are willing to do whatever it takes to truly impact this community for God.”
The church started with changing their name.
What’s In A Name?
“We chose the name primarily because it helped tie together some of the ministries and community events we do,” Pastor Barber explains. For several years the church has hosted Grace on the Bluff, a yard sale in October, and Lights on the Bluff at Christmas Time, so Church on the Bluff was a natural fit for the new name.
A second reason Barber shares is, for whatever reason, some people will automatically discount the 120-year-old Church because they are a small Baptist Church. “There is, I feel, a stereotype of small, conservative churches being exclusionary, judgmental, and perhaps even mean-spirited,” Barber explains. “We are anything but that.”
“I have pastored several wonderful churches and never have I found one to be more open and loving than this one. No one will ever leave our services without feeling the presence of God and the love of His children.”
“But how do we get them in the door?” Barber asks.
“We hope by the name change, to let all people, regardless of their religious affiliation, know that they are wanted and welcomed into our fellowship.”
The Social Stuff
With a new name also comes a social media presence and a new website. Meg Fenn designed the new website and oversees all of the social media for Church on the Bluff. “The goal was to make everything mesh and hopefully make navigation easier along with more informative content. The internet, with social media, is an important way to disseminate information and in many cases, it is our ‘first touch’ with people,“ Barber adds.
With a new outlook on reaching the community they love and a new name, the congregation at Church On The Bluff is set to celebrate their 120th anniversary on October 14with a special service. The celebration begins at 10:00am with former Pastor Richard Trader preaching. The service also includes:
Music provided by former Ministers of Music Harold Newberry, Wayne Goodwin, and Steve Yarborough
A covered dish lunch will follow
“We are still proudly Southern Baptist and conservative in our theology,“ Barber says. “As a Southern Baptist Church, we participate in sending thousands of missionaries across our nation and around the world. We support so many ministries that help families and children, the homeless, and the hungry with physical as well as spiritual needs.”
On some signs and banners, you will see “The old is made new again.” We want to convey that, while we are still a conservative, traditional church for many people it can be a new experience. Our official motto is “Ordinary people serving and extraordinary God.” Whatever good and right happen through any ministry of ours, it is through the power and grace of God. We are just ordinary people.
Five Years In The Future
Over the next five years, the church will be praying for the opportunity to minister even more in the community of Bluff Park. “We will be ‘tweaking’ our worship services to include a few more visual enhancements and begin some ‘in home’ Bible studies as well as increase our Sunday morning Bible studies,” Barber says.
Lights on the Bluff, our annual Christmas hayride and “weenie roast” second Saturday in December.
Ladies “Coffee and Chat” time Tuesday mornings at 10:00. It’s a time where ladies gather around and have a time of friendship along with coffee and a snack. There is no agenda or program, just laughter and good times. There is no charge and all ladies are welcome.
For more information on Church On The Bluff, visit their website or call the church office, 822-3240. Church On The Bluff is located at 2211 McGwier Drive.