First Baptist Church (FBC) in Mansfield has been serving the teachers and faculty in their community well for years. Reverend Phillip Slaughter of FBC shared, “We are in a small town, so our town revolves around the school. The school district is the largest employer. We have a ton of teachers in our church – probably a quarter of all of our non-retired members are teachers. We feel very connected to the school and want to serve the school. Normally we feed them a meal when they are in their back-to-school meetings. With coronavirus, we knew we wouldn’t be able to do that, so we had to get creative.”
When you can’t serve others through a meal due to coronavirus, you have to get creative.
“A church member found backpacks on sale for $1 each, so the plan was to give them to the teachers at this lunch for them to give to the kids in their classrooms. With not being able to do the meal, we wondered, what can we do?,” Slaughter said.
The creativity blossomed from there. “We decided we would make a gift bag for every employee of the school district. We shared with our church members a list of things that teachers may like. We are going to try to fill up about 130 bags, just to make sure they know how much we appreciate them,” Slaughter stated.
Slaughter also wrote a prayer that his church will be praying together in their worship service before school starts, as they will be praying for their teachers, students and school district. This prayer has been typed up and will be in their bags as well.
Although many things have been canceled due to the coronavirus, Slaughter shared that they “don’t want to lose the momentum of serving our community.”
It would have been easy for them to just cancel the meal; it would have been easy for them to do nothing. Instead, they looked for needs in their community and have creatively looked for ways to meet those needs – all for the purpose of pointing others to Jesus Christ. As Slaughter said, “for us, the need was ‘we want teachers to know that we love them and God values them,’ so we wanted to be creative with how we served them.”
Not only has Slaughter’s church looked for ways to serve the school district, but his family decided to go “Covid Caroling,” where they visited various members of their community to sing songs. “We are having to be creative each day, but even in the creativity it can still be hard,” Slaughter said. “Sometimes, just surviving the day is the best thing we can do right now. I don’t want anyone to feel like a failure for not being creative each day. But, I think that we need to pay attention to how God has gifted us. We can still look for ways to serve people with the gifts He has given us,” he shared.
Although coronavirus has drastically impacted how we can interact with people, the gifts God has given believers can still be exercised. There are still people that need to hear the Gospel; there are still people that have needs; there are still people that need encouragement. In this unusual time, we can keep the momentum of being missional going by looking to the needs of others and finding ways to meet them – all for the sake of people knowing God.
Below is a list of ideas shared by Phillip Slaughter, based on their church’s ministry to others during this time:
- Creating a food pantry and clothes closet
- Grocery shopping for others who are vulnerable
- Soon after we closed our doors in March, my family and I started going around to the homes in our area and COVID-caroling
- Lots of outdoor, socially distanced visiting
- One couple sends out a daily Bible verse to members
- One couple is sending encouraging homemade cards through the mail
- One lady has posted dozens of encouraging posts on people’s timelines, specifically pointing out what makes them special
- Back to school bags
- Someone chalked our driveway with fun games for our kids
- More people have grown gardens and have been sharing the food
- Many people have been sharing lots of corny Dad jokes with me since I’m a big fan
- A lot of technology training for people in our community