Serve Local is a missions movement that happens on a Saturday in Spring, where churches plan and participate in service-based mission projects to make Kingdom impact on their local community!
First Baptist Church in Sheridan was one of many churches across the state that participated in serve local on Saturday, April 2. Marla Moore, communications director at FBC, served as the Serve Local coordinator for the church. She credits Clint Ritchie, Arkansas Baptist State Convention community missions specialist, and the rest of the Arkansas Baptist Missions Team with providing ideas and resources to help make the day happen.
Moore says the church had not been able to attend the annual One Day event in October due to a conflict with another community event. In 2022 however, it worked out where several church members were able to go to Hot Springs for One Day. It was there that they learned about the no-sale yard sale combined with activities for children.
“I think it helped me tremendously to know of some of our church members who had gone to the statewide One Day who saw how things worked. That way we didn’t really have to start from scratch,” Moore stated. “I think the statewide event is a great model to show people how they can do it in their own community.” She also watched a couple of the training videos online and attended a Zoom meeting where Ritchie shared several ideas.
“I thought about it a lot and told our pastor that I believed this could work for us. We just need to get people to help,” Moore said. So, she took it upon herself to personally approach as many church members as possible and ask them where they wanted to serve. By the time the day was done, 70 church members had served at the event with another 20 praying behind the scenes.
Activities for the day included a no-sale yard sale where church members donated items and participants could simply shop and pick out what they needed at no charge. There were free hot dogs and water, and a bounce house, games, and face painting for the kids. Several volunteers also provided a free car wash.
The church’s food pantry, which serves on the second Saturday of each month, agreed to move to the first Saturday as part of Serve Local. The Blessings House Pregnancy Support Center also set up a booth and gave away diapers, wipes, baby clothes, food and other items. Moore said all the ministry activities provided more opportunities for multiple people to serve.
The focus of Serve Local is not only serving but sharing the Gospel. For FBC Sheridan, this included evangelism training for all volunteers. The training took place on a Wednesday night during the regularly scheduled church supper. Moore says normally they have about 50 or 60 people but on that night 85 people signed up to participate.
On Saturday, Pastor Michael Daugherty went to the microphone every thirty minutes and shared a brief gospel presentation. Moore says that Daugherty has an acronym for the Gospel that he often uses and has taught to the church (God’s character, Offense of sin, Sufficiency of Christ, Personal response, Eternal urgency and Life transformation). She used this acronym in various ways throughout the day to help volunteers share the Gospel. At each station, a sign was posted with one of the letters of the acronym. As people came to the booth, volunteers were encouraged to share what their letter meant.
They also had an easter egg hunt where kids were given an egg at each booth. Inside was a slip of paper with a letter and explanation. Moore says the hope is that they will take the eggs home and share what’s inside with their family members.
Moore enlisted the help of a dozen people to serve on the follow-up team, made up mostly of people who had served that day. The group planned to call all those who stated that they had no church home. Two hundred and twenty participants had registered with almost half of them stating they had no church affiliation. By the end of the night, the follow-up team had talked to over 80% of these, and left messages with the others. Many of these even called back.
The next day, the church had several visitors who had participated in Serve Local. A family of six, a young mom and her son, and one other young man who had never visited before showed up for worship. Moore says they will continue to reach out to these and others who visited on Saturday.
Moore is encouraged by all that happened and is already working on plans for next year.
“We’ve already bounced around some ideas for next year,” she said. “We might try to actually go out into the community and do some of the other activities that are on the list that the convention provides. There are a lot of things that we could do to still get out and meet people, engage people and share the Gospel.”
First Baptist Sheridan was just one of many Arkansas Baptist churches that joined together to serve their local communities. This joint effort resulted in over 66 ministries, with more than 777 volunteers who shared the Gospel and saw 76 professions of faith that have been reported so far.
For more information and to begin planning for next year’s event which will be on March 23, go to www.absc.org/servelocal