9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)
College Hill Baptist Church (1101 Floyd street in Lynchburg, VA) celebrated 140 years of ministering in the community on August 6th. In their “hay day”, they had a 1,000 members. Now, they are averaging 35-40 on Sunday. The majority are senior adults. What can they do to impact the community for Christ? Several are drivers for a meals on wheels program, volunteer at the hospital, work with a local food ministry and partner with R. S. Payne Elementary School.
Here are some lessons I have learned as their Interim Pastor that may help Sunday School classes realize how a small number can make a difference for a local school:
- Provide a meal for the workers at a school. S. Payne Elementary is directly across the street from the church. Ten to twelve workers from College Hill provides lunch for all of the workers the last day of school in the church fellowship hall. 80-85 employees showed up with gratitude for this lunch this year.
- Partner on the School’s projects. Whether it is tutoring students after school, helping with hunger through backpack buddies, or whatever the school is doing, you can make a difference. R. S. Payne has many transient families that come in the middle of the school year. These families can’t afford the school supplies. The employees had been funding, out of their salary, school supplies. They decided to have a Spring Carnival for families to raise money for the school supplies. College Hill provides baked goodies to sell at their carnival.
- Have a Back to School Festival. I learned this from a previous ministry. I shared the vision of providing a day when families would come and enjoy a meal. At the games played, prizes would be school supplies. We would give away door prizes to get information for follow up on families. Included in the door prizes was a refurbished computer to give away along with certificates from local restaurants. We would also give an abundance of school supplies to the school, based on what they needed. (Get the list a few months out from the school.) This past Saturday, we had the festival. Again, I learned many valuable lessons:
- Youth and young adults will come help. They want to make a difference in the community. We had around 15-20 members helping with an additional 10-15 college and youth who are not members of the church. (Let service organizations at colleges know what you are doing. Some will come and help with joy in their hearts.)
- Other mission minded churches will help smaller congregations/classes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Calvary Baptist Church in Lynchburg provided many school supplies for this school.
- Seeds will be planted. Some of the door prizes were Bibles. I was amazed at how many children chose a Bible over other prizes. We also gave out New Testaments to every child. One such child asked, “May I have a Bible? I love reading the stories about Jesus.” Our church member replied, “Sure.” Then the child said, “I have three brothers and sisters that are not able to be here. They need to read about Jesus.” With a smile on her face, the member reached in and gave three more Bibles.
- The school will be blown away by your gratitude and grace. The Principal at the school could not thank us enough. We all were inspired as I called out the name of the winner for the computer. He looks to be in the 2nd or 3rd It was like Christmas came early.
Just because you are small in numbers doesn’t mean that God can’t use you to plant seeds in your Sunday School Class/Small Group.
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV)