How will history remember us? When a church gets to a place where it’s declining, almost dying, how can you extend that legacy beyond your own years? Legacy churches are those who step up and are willing to be replanted, reborn, and re-energized in a new church plant setting. That takes courageous leadership willing to look beyond themselves to see what God wants to happen long after they’re gone from the planet. The question is: What will outlive us in our ministry and lives?
A church that had been restarted in 2002 began to plateau then decline, and God, once again, breathed the breath of life into the church, allowing another congregation to use the facility, expand, grow and continue to plant, reap, and sow, standing on the shoulders of the saints before them.
By 2002, Laytonsville Baptist Church had dwindled to a dozen discouraged members who were unsure how to continue. They approached Ron Blankenship, Montgomery Baptist Association’s director of missions.
Despite efforts from the association and the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network/BCMD, Blankenship knew the end had come for Laytonsville Baptist Church as it was, but gave the congregation time to pray and helped them reach the point of knowing that it was time to allow the church to die and be re-born.
If you call a new pastor and begin again, Blankenship explained to the church of mostly senior adults, how will he lead you into the future? Where will he get the resources? He would still be dealing with the same problems.
But, Blankenship explained, if you re-start as a new church plant, there may be resources, including funding, for the plant, plus a younger pastor and core group in their 20’s and 30’s, a consultant, and support from a parent church and other partners.
“It wasn’t easy,” Charles Gibson, a founding member of the Laytonsville congregation in 1965, told BaptistLIFE in 2002. Gibson’s biggest fear was that the church would close.
“The first time it shocked me,” Gibson said, regarding Blankenship’s proposal for Laytonsville to die and let a new church begin. But within a few meetings, Gibson was convinced.
There was some sadness, he admitted, but the church did not close. It became home to two churches, MorningStar Community Church, which eventually faced similar challenges, and the Philippine International Bible Church, which is a better fit for the community and is now thriving.
God, using the legacies of Latonsville Baptist and MorningStar, allowed the church to become Philippine International Bible Church (PIBC). PIBC was renting space at MorningStar and church leaders approached Senior Pastor Nards Manalang to ask if the church would be interested in buying the property. Manalang knew PIBC was ready to take the leap. MorningStar requested just a portion of the church’s real estate value. “It was actually more of a handing down one Southern Baptist property to another,” Manalang acknowledges.
“We were quite eager,” Manalang said, noting the church was coming of age after meeting in other church buildings.
It was time to move to accommodate their growth. “We are just so thankful that this property has been provided,” Manalang said, noting the church is still primarily Filipino.
“We are trying to take steps to make it more international. It is a challenge.” The church is seeking a part-time American youth minister to help with that outreach effort.
PIBC now has six adult small groups and several Sunday School classes for children.
Manalang said the church envisions building a multipurpose building within a few years for sporting events, classrooms, and conferences.
Ron Blankenship, director of missions for the Montgomery Baptist Association, is thrilled the original church will continue the journey, though taking an unplanned but God-ordained path.