Ed Newton was an itinerant evangelist based out of Orlando, Florida, when he received a call from a church elder at Community Bible Church (CBC) of San Antonio. “He said, ‘You don’t know us and we don’t know you, but I came across a YouTube video of you. Would you be willing to come to speak at our men’s conference?’”
Not one to refuse a speaking engagement, Newton agreed. “I had no idea that I would fall in love with this church,” he says. “It would become one of my favorite places to go.”
He continued to speak at the men’s conference each year until CBC Founder and Pastor Robert Emmitt began planning his retirement. Emmitt contacted Newton to find out how he felt about the idea of taking over the church. What he didn’t know was that Newton had prayed for God to send him “to a church with a heart like CBC,” Newton says.
“God used Robert and the vision that God placed in his heart to start a church that would be founded on the principles of God’s Word and life transformation,” says Newton. “It would be a place of healing and hope for those who feel like they are marginalized and hopeless.”
That compassion has grown the church, which started with a base of 137 people who met at a La Quinta Inn, into one of the largest congregations in the area. Newton, who took over the lead slot in January 2016, can’t explain the current season of church growth. “In recent months we have just taken off, and we really haven’t done anything different than what we’ve always been doing,” he says.
He does say that some “tilts” have taken place since he became lead pastor. “When I say ‘tilt,’ I mean God’s agenda has really become front and center, and we just went all in on it,” he says.
One example of a “tilt” is a recent change in how they perform baptisms. The church had a baptismal that was not in the main hall, so baptisms happened on Sunday afternoon with only invited friends and family. Newton watched a touching baptism of a young woman who was only accompanied by an older woman. He learned the young woman was homeless and had been taken in by the older woman, a church member who led her to the Lord.
Newton believed the whole church needed to be involved in baptisms, “so that people who don’t have family are surrounded by family,” he says. CBC purchased portable baptism units, after which 220 people were baptized on a single Sunday.
Eddie Campos is a church member who was recently baptized. “My daughter introduced me to CBC, and I was floored by the uniqueness of the way this pastor brings the message of Jesus to all of us,” Campos says. “It’s been nine months now that I’ve been attending CBC. It’s such a large church, but I feel and sense the love of God every time I’ve attended.”
Newton says the mission of Community Bible—“to reach, teach and help people in Jesus’ name”—does not change, so he believes that they will continue to see growth. The mission is not to keep the church body in place but “for this audience that has gathered to be sent out as an army with every member on mission,” he says.
COMMUNITY BIBLE CHURCH
San Antonio, Texas
Senior Pastor: Ed Newton
Twitter: @Ed_Newton, @CBCSocial
A 2017 OUTREACH 100 CHURCH
Growth in 2016: +1,957 (+17%)
Fastest Growing: 16