With the help of Regenesis, Central Texas church positions itself for massive population swell

When Pastor Stephen Ammons learned a massive semiconductor plant would be built nearby, bringing thousands of jobs and, in turn, other industries, he knew Meadowbrook Baptist Church needed to address the opportunity.

That plant, as well as an automobile manufacturing facility built about an hour to the west in Austin, has led some to project that this community of 5,500 will double in size over the next five years and reach 30,000 residents by 2030.

Though the semiconductor plant isn’t expected to open until later this year, Ammons said the community is already experiencing the effects. Foundations are being poured for nearly 700 new homes in Rockdale, Ammons said.

“We’re already seeing the growth from this plant coming in,” Ammons said. “My wife works at the school, and she said almost every day there’s somebody coming and enrolling their kid in school.”

Meadowbrook “had been coasting, definitely in the plateaued stage” for many years, Ammons said. Visitors would come, but it didn’t lead to much growth. 

“People in the community knew about Meadowbrook,” he said, “but that was about it.”

He recalls telling church leaders, “We’ve got this influx of people coming, and if we don’t change, if we don’t refocus, if we don’t prepare now before they get here, we’re going to be playing catchup for years in trying to reach these people.”

“We decided to go into the Regenesis program so that, as the community is starting to grow, we would be ready for whatever God’s going to do.”

Refocusing through Regenesis

So Meadowbrook turned to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Regenesis program, which resources churches with tools to help them move toward health and renewal. 

“We decided to go into the Regenesis program so that, as the community is starting to grow, we would be ready for whatever God’s going to do when we hit this massive growth in our community,” Ammons said.

The church has been sending a team of four leaders to meet with other churches during the Regenesis eight-month cohort process for revitalization. Those leaders have been considering how the church’s gifts and talents can be used to meet community needs, as well as examining what the church is doing well and how it can improve.

Meadowbrook averages 80 people on Sundays and has space to accommodate twice that many easily, the pastor said. “We own an entire city block, so we’ve got massive amounts of property to expand and grow when needed.”

The church has been considering ways to get its name out into the community and let people know they care, Ammons said. In their Regenesis meetings, they discussed simple ways to advance the church’s mission. Prayer came up as a key strategy. So at the city’s Christmas parade a few months ago, Meadowbrook got permission to set up a prayer booth. 

“We had a tent, a table, a few flyers about the church,” Ammons said. “The main purpose was if someone needed prayer, we could pray for them.” 

Some people from the church gave out Bibles at the prayer booth, and as people walked up, church members asked how they could pray for them. A preteen boy said he didn’t attend church anywhere and asked for prayer for his mother’s heart problems.

“We had a couple that came up and said they had a neighbor across the street whose mom had been in the hospital. We prayed for that. We had about a dozen people come up and let us pray for them,” Ammons said. “It was absolutely fantastic.”

Since the Rockdale community struggles with poverty, Meadowbrook has been thinking of ways to minister in that regard. The pastor said about 50 homeless people are nearby, some living in the woods behind a large retail store. Senior adults who barely have enough income for themselves are raising grandchildren.

“We had a grandma come in with her grandson and she didn’t have clothes for him,” Ammons said. “As they were leaving, I looked at the hem of his jeans, and it was a good four inches above his heel.”

When the pastor told the congregation about the need, he estimates about eight trash bags full of new and used clothing were donated. Now the student can attend school without the burden of clothes that don’t fit.

“Because of that, they’ve actually been coming to the church regularly.” 

Many churches are not aware of the resources—such as Regenesis—available to them through the SBTC, Ammons said.

“We have gotten a lot of help from the SBTC,” he said. “ … We’re able to get advice. … We’re not in this struggle alone.

“There are tons of resources that our Cooperative Program funds are paying for if we’ll just reach out and ask.”

TEXAN Correspondent
Erin Roach
Most Read

What does a special-needs family experience when they visit your church?

Editor’s note: The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has designated July 14 as Disability Ministry Sunday. We walked up to the registration area for the children’s classes one Sunday at the church we were visiting in …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.