On average, Tm McCoy speaks to a group of 2,100-plus people weekly about the things of God.
Yet McCoy, lead pastor at Ingleside Baptist Church since 1989, is eager to communicate Bible truths daily to individuals as well.
McCoy speaks to the multitudes at Ingleside’s multiple services on its Wimbish Road campus. Add to that those who catch church gatherings via internet feeds, podcasts, audio CDs and a Sunday morning broadcast at 11 a.m. on WMAZ-TV.
We’ve learned at Ingleside when we use biblical words to describe biblical truths in biblical ways, our doctrine and practice will be sound, our thinking will be renewed, our lives will be transformed and God will be greatly glorified.
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As for individuals, McCoy is given to striking up conversations about Jesus wherever he goes, but of late he’s particularly enthusiastic about communicating by way of a daily email encouraging people to read through the Bible with him one chapter per day.
He said he likes the email ministry for a specific reason.
“The most significant spiritual practice a person can develop is to be able to feed themselves from God and his word,” he said. “The emails are geared toward developing that. We are called to fellowship and grow together, but the emails get us reading though God’s word individually, hearing from him every day in our own setting.
“Husbands and wives are then asking each other, ‘What did you get out of it today?’ Parents and children are relating to it and are saying among themselves, ‘Hey, did you read that today? What did you think?’ Many of our Bible study teachers are incorporating it into their groups, but it’s based on one person with Jesus in his word themselves.”
McCoy said the emails began as something sent to church leaders. But soon they began sending them to other members, friends and relatives near and far. He said emails are now issued at 5 a.m. daily to 2,600 participants who read the chapter, pray about it and read three or four paragraphs McCoy provides. He considers it “a win” every time a person engages with God on their own in the Bible and through prayer.
McCoy writes comments in advance — but not too far in advance. He wants readings to stay as fresh to him as they are to others he may discuss them with.
To participate, there’s a link on the Ingleside website for “A Chapter a Day.” The word “chapter” can also be texted to 22828.
The email reading plan is just one of a multitude of ministries at the church. McCoy said he sees it as one of many ways the church works to fulfill its mission.
“We’re here to do what Jesus told us to do: go and make disciples. I’d say a disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ, a learner — someone who says I turn from my sin, I’m following Jesus and I want to serve him and others to his glory,” he said.
“We’ve learned at Ingleside when we use biblical words to describe biblical truths in biblical ways, our doctrine and practice will be sound, our thinking will be renewed, our lives will be transformed and God will be greatly glorified. We use (the words) ‘come,’ ‘grow,’ ‘serve’ and ‘go’ to invite others to join us in pursuing Christ and obeying him.”
McCoy said “come” reflects the call to worship; “grow” expresses the church’s desire that members meet with others in groups large and small; “serve” is a call to action to love others practically; and “go” means reaching out with the Gospel and the love of God near and far.
As one of Macon’s larger congregations, Ingleside has rarely had trouble drawing a crowd. A church timeline presented at a 65th anniversary celebration in December showed 16 people attended an “interest” meeting at a private home in early October 1951.
That led to Ingleside’s start in the fast-growing Ingleside area. By the time a charter-membership roll was closed two months later on Dec. 23, there were 203 names on it. That immediately put Ingleside ahead of the average-sized U.S. church of about 90 adult members, according to Barna group studies.
The Southern Baptist congregation’s first pastor was the Rev. J. Ellis Sammons.
“Our founders who created the early papers wouldn’t have called it a plant or a split from another church, but a response from many churches to the post-World War II growth Macon saw, especially around Ingleside,” McCoy said. “In fact, several churches like Vineville Baptist, Cherokee Heights and First Baptist led the way with demographic work to show there was a great need. They stirred the pot for a new congregation to be born.”
Just more than a decade later, there were 1,000 members. The Barna group says only 2 percent of American churches reach 1,000 members. By 1996 there were 2,000 members at Ingleside.
McCoy, only the fifth pastor to lead Ingleside, arrived in 1989 and has served 26 years. A book written in 20110 titled “20 Years at Ingleside — A Glimpse of God at Work” by Ingleside church member and former staff member Lindsay Acocella, gives a detailed account about McCoy’s tenure to that point. The inside flap talks of 220-percent growth in Sunday worship attendance, 1,385 professions of Christ through baptism and more than “$73 million given to the work of the Lord.”
Today, the actual member list reflects 4,623 on roll.
According to Tim Newberry, Ingleside chief financial officer, the church has 247,891 square feet of ministry facilities on 29.7 acres. That includes sanctuary-seating for about 1,700, McCoy said.
In talking about the numbers, McCoy seems neither embarrassed nor prideful. Instead, like most topics, he chooses to addresses it in “biblical words to describe biblical truths in biblical ways.”
“We try to understand our mission of making disciples through a biblical lens,” he said. “To do that, we go to the New Testament and the Book of Acts, which records the early church and its growth. How do they tell the story? They tell it in the number of people added and in individual stories of life-change. We try to track the same way — in both numbers and lives being changed. That and the realization it’s all by God’s grace. It’s all of grace.”
Ingleside is McCoy’s first pastorate. A Mississippi native, he’s a graduate of Louisiana College with a bachelors degree in religion and Kentucky’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees. He has served as first vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention and as trustee and chairman of the board for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as a 2011 member of the resolutions committee for the Southern Baptist Convention.
He was Distinguished Alumnus of the Year of Southern Seminary in 2010 and has done short-term mission work in Belgium, Brunei, East Malaysia, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, Singapore and Thailand.
He and his wife, Beverly, have two young adult daughters, Meredith and Molly.
McCoy said his call to ministry came in his college freshman year as a gradual realization.
“In high school, I was a math and science guy and was studying industrial engineering in college,” he said. “I had great parents who loved Christ and taught and trained me and gave me a great foundation. When I told them I felt called to ministry, my dad said young men often move away from home and make rash decisions. He said if I still felt called after six months they’d be fully supportive.
“The longer I’ve lived, I’ve just tried to step through doors God has opened in faith. I’d say my identity as a pastor — and understanding of being a husband and father — has been rooted and informed by scripture.”
McCoy said his weeks are filled with strategic planning, leader’s meetings and preparing for teaching, preaching and other ministry. And despite leading such a large organization, he said he still counsels others one-on-one weekly. It’s important he keeps his heart connected to people, he said.
But what about those who don’t like large churches?
“You know, we haven’t always been a large church,” he said. “We just tried to be about the work of making disciples and we grew. It’s slow, incremental gospel work and God’s grace. We want to effectively continue our mission whatever state we’re in.”
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.