Church meets needs hands-on
Pew-sitting does not suffice at church formed to reach out in missions.
By Josh Hayter
When Pastor Charlie Brown founded The Crossing Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, he made it clear to members pew-sitting would not suffice. He wanted them to minister outside their sanctuary and serve people.
â€śIt was part of my heart that our church would be involved in missions and that our people would be directly involved,â€ť Brown said. â€śThe purpose of the church significantly includes getting out of the church building and doing anything and everything we can to impact our community and as much of the world as possible.â€ť
The Crossing Baptist Church organized its first mission trip to El Paso eight years ago and has ministered somewhere along the Rio Grande every year since.
Members have served a colonia in the Lower Rio Grande Valley four consecutive years with KidsHeart, a partnership between Buckner International, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas and Literacy Connexus. Members share the gospel, build or upgrade homes and meet physical and emotional needs.
â€śWhen the church saw the work first hand and experienced it, they were hooked,â€ť he said. â€śWhen we arrived, there were so many needs in the colonia. We were just overwhelmed. Our people fell in love with that area. â€¦
â€śThe more they served, the more they gained a real sense of purpose and clear understanding about what it meant to love Jesus and serve Jesus. Now weâ€™re just kind of addicted to doing all kinds of missional stuff.â€ť
The church continues to make the trip because of the relationships they have developed with people in the Rio Grande Valley.
â€śEvery time we go down itâ€™s like a big family reunion,â€ť he said. â€śThereâ€™s just a great time of celebration and worshiping together. Itâ€™s just a great joy when Christian brothers and sisters are reunited after theyâ€™ve been apart.â€ť
By demonstrating consistency through the years in the Rio Grande Valley, members of the Mesquite church have established trust with people there.
â€śThe people this past year recognized we continue to return, and weâ€™re not going to be somebody thatâ€™s going to show up in their community, do something and then just disappear and forget about them,â€ť he said.
Each year, The Crossing Baptist Church has sponsored a womenâ€™s ministry in the colonia. Typically, 15 to 20 women participated, he said. This year, it attracted 50 womenâ€”and they brought their husbands.
â€śThey came because they recognized the trust relationship,â€ť he said, â€śThey realized we were seriousâ€”we were there for the long haul.â€ť
Adults in the colonia began to discuss ways they could help their own community with the support of The Crossing Baptist Church.
â€śIt became more of a joint venture of the people we were trying to reach. Now theyâ€™re turning around and joining us in the work.â€ť
The Crossing Baptist Church also seeks to find and meet needs close to home. One church member who has a passion for work with homeless women leads members twice a month to minister at The Center of Hope, a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas, under the leadership of Gospel to the Americas. Members direct chapel services once a month for the women and once a month for the children.
Members from The Crossing Baptist Church also mentor children at a public school in their neighborhood, in addition to leading a worship service in a rest home every Sunday morning.
â€śWe want to be serious about making disciples. To me, the best way to do that is to do as much hands-on ministry as possible. You can sit in a Sunday school room and have an outstanding Bible study, but until you go and take those truths and put them into practical application, you never truly grasp a clear understanding of what that truth looks like.â€ť
Brown believes every church should ask: â€śIf our church closed its doors would the community notice. Would it matter?â€ť
â€śLook around,â€ť he said. â€śIf your church does not have a redemptive presence, a presence of Christ in the community, then I would say the church is falling short of its mission. Period.
â€śThereâ€™s a clear biblical mandate to be involved in missions. The length of time has nothing to do with it. Itâ€™s a present-day imperative and it will not go away.â€ť
Brown encourages churches to start by plugging into their own community. Start by finding real needs and addressing them and enlisting a few committed people.
â€śIf you see that need and a few people begin to address that, then the enthusiasm and the testimony that comes out of that ministry will inspire the rest of the congregation,â€ť he said. â€śAnd that vision and that passion will begin to spread. â€¦
â€śThat is the church being the church. The church is not us coming here on Sunday morning. The church is the body of Christ going into the world all during the week in a variety of different ways finding how do we plug in and impact and influence peopleâ€™s lives and bring transformation to a crazy culture. Itâ€™s part of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. It should be part of our DNA. It is who we are and what we should be doing. Itâ€™s why we exist.â€ť
© 2014 Associated Baptist Press, Inc.