3page historyIn 1970, LBT’s average Sunday school attendance was 157 per week, 112 were saved, 57 baptized, and 82 joined the church. Pastor Terry introduced another soul-winning tool that accounted for the dramatic increase in attendance: the church bus. Eventually, the church ran out of room.

To meet the needs for additional Sunday school space, classes met in houses, under carports, on the church bus, or anywhere they could find. To accommodate the larger crowds the church built a new 550-seat auditorium on Jenny Street for $45,000.

The church had a ground breaking ceremony for the new auditorium in February 1971. The building was completed in May 1972 and a Dedication Service was held in June. 757 people crowded into the auditorium as Dr. Jack Hyles dedicated the new building.

1972 was a year of tremendous growth. The church passed the 1,000 mark in Sunday school attendance three times. Because of the growth, the church decided to purchase additional property to relocate the church to the intersection of Loop 281 and Fairmont Road. The property cost the church $42,000 and the new 1,200-seat auditorium was built for $242,000.

Brother Larry Webb came to LBT to organize the bus ministry. When he arrived, LBT had one bus that was used as a means of transportation for those who might call the church requesting a ride. A second bus was secured, and a bus ministry, not a transportation service, was begun at LBT. The third bus was secured from a church in Dallas for $300. The three buses brought in total of 120 the first Sunday they were all in operation. As more buses were added to the fleet, the average attendance continued to increase. In December 1972 over 700 riders came on eleven buses for the anniversary of the bus ministry. By the time the new property was purchased on the Loop, the church was running thirteen buses.

The first Sunday in LBT’s new auditorium was May 6, 1973. The move proved to be an immediate success as 1,036 were in Sunday school and 1,167 were in the Sunday morning preaching service. The bus ministry accounted for 651 riders who rode one of the church’s thirteen buses to Sunday school. Pastor Smith continued a tradition by having Dr. Hyles dedicate the new 1,200-seat auditorium during a Sword of the Lord Conference with Dr. John R. Rice.

paster terryLBT launched into another ministry in September 1973, when the Longview Christian Academy was founded. LCA opened with grades K-4 though the sixth grade. The most productive year overall in Pastor Smith’s ministry at LBT was 1973. During that year the church saw 930 saved, 162 additions, and 338 baptized. The Sunday school average after moving to the Loop property was 846 and the Sunday morning preaching service average was 890.

LBT finished out the ‘70’s with an interim pastor, Brother Jim Newton and the church’s attendance, professions of faith, and baptisms began to diminish, as the church’s emphasis began to change.