Tom Belew, Small Group and Childhood Specialist
Tom Belew estimates he has driven more than 350,000 miles since June 1995 when he began his ministry with California Southern Baptist Convention, helping churches provide ministry and resources for children throughout the Golden State.
It is good that Tom, Small Group and Childhood Specialist with the CSBC Healthy Church Group, enjoys traveling since it is an integral part of his CSBC ministry. A native of Alabama, Tom and his wife, Phyllis, have been married more than 40 years and have one daughter, Danielle. She and her husband, Jim, are teachers at an international school in Shanghai, China and have two children.
“Phyllis and I love to travel,” Tom relates, “and having grandkids in the Philippines and then China for the last 14 years has expanded our trips.” Tom made his second trip to China in 2015.
Both Tom and Phyllis earned degrees from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, where they began leading conferences for church leaders. Tom served churches in Arizona and California, including Bethel Baptist Church in Escondido.
Tom’s traveling does not stop with international trips since he does “just about everything for childhood ministries and small groups” at CSBC. As a member of the Healthy Church Group, he consults with church leaders about all facets of ministry.
As a consultant and conference leader, Tom has presented such topics as screening policies and procedures, teaching methods, outreach ministries, consultant training, and computer skills.
God has gifted Tom as an equipper and educator. His greatest joy is seeing a fellow worker or church leader to whom he has ministered become more effective in his or her ministry: “I see God at work as church leaders become better equipped to reach families for Christ in their communities,” Tom said. “I enjoy joining God in His work of making disciples who proclaim the Good News about Jesus Christ.”
Tom’s message to California Southern Baptists
“Vacation Bible School (VBS) is the single most effective evangelism tool that we use to reach people for Christ,” Tom shared. “Probably 25 percent of all decisions in California every year are a result of VBS. That number could raise to 50 percent as more church leaders report their VBS results.
“For many churches, VBS is the only time they have decisions all year long. A typical church has five to seven decisions in VBS and discovers 15 to 20 prospects. There can be considerable church growth each year when churches cultivate those prospects and the families associated with them.
“A great challenge I see within California churches is that of aging congregations losing their ability to reach preschoolers, children, and young families. That could be as many as 1,400 churches. Many churches have let their childhood ministries slip away. Without children and young families, many churches will begin a slow decline and likely die. VBS is a way to help stop that decline.”
So, if your church isn’t ready for VBS and needs help, pick up a telephone and talk with him. VBS leaders also can e-mail concerns to Tom, a great resource of information, encouragement, and passion for ministry to preschoolers and children.
Tom’s prayer requests:
- Pray for safe travel as he consults with church leaders around the state.
- Pray that Phyllis will know what to pray for as she intercedes for her husband and the CSBC staff.
- Pray that God will rekindle fires in the hearts and lives of leaders and members in CSBC’s plateaued and declining churches.
- Pray that churches will renew their efforts to reach children and their familiies.
- Pray that churches will recapture a vision to starting Sunday school classes and small groups to reach new people and expand their ministry.
- Pray that Tom will have God’s insight, patience, and wisdom as he consults with church leaders.
- Pray that God will give Tom the words and actions to use as he trains and equips leaders according to the Great Commission.
- God has called out many childhood ministry leaders in California in recent years.
- California churches are working hard to provide safe, secure teaching and learning environments for children and preschoolers.
- God has provided travel safety since June 1995.
Tom’s contact information:
California Southern Baptist Convention
Small Group and Childhood Specialist
Healthy Church Group
678 E. Shaw Ave.
Fresno, CA 93710-7704