I recently had the privilege of spending a few hours with Dr. Allen Tilley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Carthage, TX. Carthage is the home of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and is the setting of the major motion picture, Bernie.
Dr. Tilley has served Frist Baptist for over fifteen years. God has used his leadership to multiply the congregation several times over. I was really interested in the fact that such a large church was located in such a small town (around 6,000 people). Dr. Tilley explained that First Baptist had changed their focus from being a “home town church” to a “regional church.” They have members who travel each Sunday from multiple counties –some as far as 45 miles each way.
One of the things Dr. Tilley noted about the church is its emphasis on outreach. Every Sunday afternoon, a group of 15-20 people saturate the community sharing the gospel. But the outreach efforts are more than just “cold calls.” An intentional effort is made to move people into discipleship through Bible studies in the church. In my opinion, this is a key factor that is missing in most evangelism programs.
Significant participation in the outreach program over the years is probably due to Dr. Tilley’s continual emphasis on the priesthood of all believers. He regularly shares his conviction that all believers are called to minister through the local church.
I really enjoyed my time in Carthage. Dr. Tilley was gracious with his time even though he is in the midst of difficult health issues, Please pray for First Baptist Carthage and especially pray for Dr. Tilley’s health.