RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – One Day: Serve Local is still a few weeks away, but Second Baptist Church in Russellville planned its outreach early due to Russellville High School’s graduation being held on May 15. From 9 a.m. to noon on April 24, 350 people walked the halls of Second Baptist to hear the Gospel and shop for free.
Last year, One Day: Serve Local allowed Second Baptist to serve their community in two different capacities. Church members did lawn care for residents surrounding the church’s property and holding a car wash just down the street. But this year, they wanted to do something different.
“We just felt like we wanted to change it up a little bit from what we had previously done to see if we could maybe find something more effective,” Pastor Chris Russell said.
Originally, they’d thought about doing a ‘No Sale Yard Sale’ plus a laundry mat/car wash combo but eventually decided one was enough and went with the sale plan. With a ‘No Sale, Yard Sale’ on the table, Russell decided to wait until after Easter before announcing their idea. They had decided to wait to collect any items until the week before the sale – afraid they might get too many and not have space for it all. But as the week came, things quickly piled up.
Wednesday night of the week leading up to the event, Jonathan Whitlock, Missions and Youth Pastor, gathered some of his youth to go and pick up items that older members wanted to donate but couldn’t physically bring. That night after service, the youth began to set up the sale as a part of their own mission project.
Russell made a post on their Facebook page Friday morning with pictures of different items that he thought might get people interested – like a baby crib, baby strollers and a DVD player – as one more push for the event. He also posted in some online, local swap shop Facebook groups about their upcoming sale.
“That was really our only promotion of it,” Russell said, “Outside of word of mouth. But that morning it kind of blew up, for a lack of a better term. Next thing you know we had thousands of views and hundreds of shares.”
Russell and Whitlock met early Saturday morning to revamp how they were going to do a couple of things because of the popularity their posts had gotten. They weren’t sure just how many people were going to come. With a start time of 9 a.m., they looked outside around 8, a decent sized line had already formed outside. With the threat of rain, they opened the doors a little early to at least bring people in, so they weren’t in the rain.
The line was ushered in, grouped into smaller groups, then separated in a couple of sections in the church’s sanctuary. They were led to the sanctuary to register and hear a Gospel message. At the end, they were handed a card to help them respond – whether they needed prayer, wanted to talk to someone more about the Gospel, or had prayed to accept Christ as their Savior.
“We reiterated their response was not tied to what they could or couldn’t get at the sale, they were free to respond and get however and whatever they wanted,” he said. They were then led through the building to where the sale was happening, to shop.
“We had 103 people indicate on those cards that they prayed to receive Christ that day,” Russell said. That night, they were able to reach out to everyone who had provided contact information on the response cards.
“We had some visitors Sunday for the first time – it was interesting because they’d actually been to different events of ours, but they’d never been inside the building,” he said. “A grandmother and her granddaughter came Saturday, and she told us, ‘I came to the no sale yard sale because I wanted to see inside the building and talk to some of the people.’ And lo and behold the next day, they came to Sunday School for the first time.”
Russell said that people in their community have already expressed thanks to them and asked when they’re going to do something like this again. There are plans in the works to have something again whether it’s soon or closer to One Day in October.
“It’s one of those things that I think it was clearly evident that God’s hand and blessing was on it in many ways,” he said. “It turned in to so much more and so much better than we could’ve ever imagined…We’re just so grateful that the Lord allowed us to be a part of this.”
As One Day: Serve Local approaches, it’s not too late to register your church and organize a community project. Serve Local is May 15 and One Day, originally planned to be in Russellville in 2020, will be held there on October 2, 2021.