The Summit Church, North Canton, baptized 35 people this fall.
By Stephanie Heading, managing editor
Taking the “long view” of disciple-making has resulted in 35 baptisms this fall in one northeast Ohio church.
The Summit Church, North Canton, is a fifteen-year-old church plant that launched in 2008 with the goal of reaching those who didn’t attend church or hadn’t been in church for a long time, according to Lead Pastor Tom Hogsed. “The heart of our team was to see lives changed through Jesus Christ.”
To reach that goal, Hogsed and his staff decided to change the way they taught their congregation and how they interacted with the people as well.
“We are taking a long view of making disciples,” said Hogsed. “The short-term view is to get people to say a prayer and baptize them. We want to see people walking in The Way—speaking and living out the ways of Christ.”
We want to see people walking in The Way—speaking and living out the ways of Christ.
To implement a long-view approach to disciple making, Hogsed and his team chose “Firm Foundations,” a curriculum designed for unreached people groups, published by ethnos360. They adapted it for all age groups.
“The whole church, everybody, was on the same page. When a parent sits down at lunch after church, they know what their children have learned. It enables them to disciple their children.”
From September 2022 to August 2023, Hogsed led the church through “The Journey,” a one-year teaching of the gospel throughout the Bible. “It was life changing for our church and our staff,” he said. “The gospel is not only found in the Gospels. It’s throughout the scriptures.”
In September 2023, The Summit began the second phase of the five-year plan, “The Way.”
“Now that we have received the gospel, what is our response to that?” said Hogsed. “The church is ready for discipleship.” The first subject they studied was baptism.
“We didn’t offer baptism during ‘The Journey’ or even talk about it,” said Hogsed. “After a commitment to teach through the gospel in a year, we hoped and prayed that baptisms would be the result, but we were surprised by the response,” Hogsed said.
In September, the church witnessed 29 baptisms on one day, and six more in early October for a total of 35 in the first six weeks of the discipleship teaching.
The broadness of the people responding to following Christ and baptism is exciting to Hogsed. “We are seeing parents, kids, husbands, and wives being baptized.”
We are seeing parents, kids, husbands, and wives being baptized.
He has also had the privilege of baptizing children who grew up in The Summit. “We also got to baptize the first babies we ever dedicated at the church. They are high schoolers now.”
Over the past 15 years, The Summit Church has become a congregation of 400-500 people and has baptized more people in the last six weeks than it had in attendance when it started. Hogsed has a simple explanation for their growth.
“It’s nothing spectacular,” he said. “It’s a recommitment to teaching the gospel as God laid it out. In the end, this wasn’t anything we did. We relied on the Holy Spirit to do the work as we faithfully taught the Word.”