Commitment to Excellence
“I spent a lot of years in secular work where I gave my heart and a lot of extra work to doing something that didn’t amount to much,” says Bro. Phil DePriest, pastor of The Pentecostals of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. “I want to bring that same level of commitment to excellence in the work I do for the Lord and those things which are eternal in nature.”
Keys to Growth
Pastor DePriest says he believes the key to revival is “a combination of many different factors. First is a love for the lost. You also have to create and foster the atmosphere for revival, soul winning and growth. The third thing is you have to teach Bible studies to reach out into the community to find the people that are hurting and in need of the Lord. You have to connect them to the atmosphere of the church where they can find spiritual solutions which of course is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
Prioritizing is different for the different stages of growth that you are in, says Pastor DePriest. The first stage, he says, “when you’re 50 to 70 in number, you focus on trying to put your various ministries into proper working order as much as you can.” The next stage, “when you have more help and some staff, you have to shift your focus into more of oversight in leadership growth as opposed to doing everything all on your own. We’re now in the third stage where you do very little as far as hands-on work and are shifted into more of the mentor, director and guide. You must focus on putting as many people to work as you possibly can to do the work of the Lord.”
Effective Outreach Events
Pastor DePriest says, “We have several things that we do for pure attendance boosting. There are two major events we have every year. One is our Summer Music Camp. It’s a lot like Vacation Bible School only with a musical emphasis. At the end, all of the children perform a musical. Our second major event is our Christmas musical in December. A tactic that we use is asking each child to give us names of grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. which we place on a personalized invitation with the picture of the child on a post card which says, ‘Please come see me in my Christmas play.’ It is very effective.”
Other outreach events that Pastor DePriest and his church do include “our Fall Festival around the end of October. We have free food, hot dogs, cotton candy, bouncy rides, our choir sings, etc. Hundreds of people come across the property. The same is true of our Memorial Day picnic. This brings in an extra two hundred people. We also do a Family Christmas evening, where we have a lot of poems and skits. Some of it is funny, some sad. We’ve had our choirs stand outside of restaurants in town and those have been very effective as well. These are ‘soft-sell’ activities that we use to show people that we’re just like everybody else. At the same time, we have a spiritual emphasis on every one without being too overt.”
Excellence in Organization and Management
Departments and ministries in The Pentecostals of Murfreesboro include Ladies, Men, Youth, Christian Education, Kid’s Clubs, Spanish, Children’s Church, Discipleship, Guest Relations (which includes ushers and hostesses), Music, Missions, and Celebrate Recovery which deals with the full gamut of addictions such as gambling and pornography as well as substance abuse.
Pastor DePriest meets with his paid staff every Tuesday. “All of our ministry leaders have job descriptions, but only some need to hand in monthly reports. We have monthly meetings with the church council (all of the ministry leaders) and annual meetings with everyone in the church that has any position at all.” Pastor DePriest doesn’t have a formal program for training, “just personal mentor type in a group setting.”
In getting people involved, the pastor says, “There are three areas we struggle with: guest follow-up, discipleship, and involvement in ministry. We have about 45 percent of the church involved in some form of ministry with only about 10 percent involved in evangelism.” In order to promote involvement, “We preach and teach about it. We’ve begun a one-on-one interview about ‘What is your ministry?’ and ‘What do you think you can do?’ We want to help them find their area of service.”
For his philosophy of ministry, Pastor DePriest says, “I have borrowed the sayings from a lot of people. One thing that guides us is excellence. You don’t shortcut anything that you can help.” He enjoys preaching and teaching the most about “daughter works and planting churches. That’s a passion of mine.”
The church has experienced significant growth in the past 20 years. Pastor DePriest explains, “We took the church in 1992. We had 6,500 square feet. The building seated 150. After three years we moved onto the property purchased by my predecessor. There, we built an 11,600 square feet building. Since then, we’ve remodeled and our present capacity is about 375, and we are full. We’re up to 22,000 square feet on almost 10 acres of property.”
As for future growth plans related to facilities, “We’re not really sure; the economy has hit us very hard. We are committed to our missions giving. We have plans to go to a larger facility, but for right now, we’re concentrating on a multiple service approach.
“We have not grown in the past couple of years as we’d hoped. We’ve had some decline because of moving and the like. We’ve also lost people because of our stand on the doctrine. We don’t have any intention of changing our doctrinal stand.”
However, he concluded, “last year we had 27 filled with the Holy Ghost, and we have had 22 to 23 receive the Holy Ghost to date this year. In 1992, when we took the church our attendance was about 100. Our current average attendance is 325.”
A Little History
Pastor DePriest was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was raised in the church and received the Holy Ghost at 17. He received the call to preach at the same time. “I started working in church ministry under Bro L. H. Benson in East Nashville,” the pastor said. “In 1982 we moved to Murfreesboro and eventually became assistant pastor under Bro Marvin Tidrick. In 1992, upon his sudden death, I became a full-time pastor. That was a very sad day but we just kind of went on from there. I feel like the proverbial turtle on the fence post. I didn’t get there by myself. However, it was a very smooth transition.
“Our outreach methods have changed over the years. In the past, we emphasized massive personal contacts every week. We haven’t done that so much in recent years, but we’re going to get back to that. We’re focusing on people just reaching out one-on-one and home Bible studies. We have probably a dozen or so Bible studies every week, three Home Fellowship Groups, and one preaching point. Our goal is to have 50 Bible studies a week, 10 Home Fellowship Groups, and three or four preaching points. Those will springboard into daughter churches. In 1997, we targeted 26 cities for daughter work. We’ve placed some of those and others have as well. Now, we’ve got 18 left.”
“I have suffered in the past 10 years with Parkinson’s disease and other discouraging things in the church, but I believe more than ever before that the Lord is coming for His church. He’s not going to tarry very long. It is time to ensure that you are ready to meet Him and that you have done the best you can to win as many souls as you can for the Lord. That’s the only thing that’s going to matter. It’s going to be very soon that the Lord comes back for His church.”
Written by: Christina Li