BATESVILLE, Ark. – First Baptist Church (FBC) in Batesville has creatively developed new strategies for meeting with their congregation. The coronavirus pandemic has left many churches, including FBC, with some challenges. They have many members who are in the at risk category, and they also have many members who live in rural areas without internet access.
So, when the world goes virtual but meeting virtually doesn’t work for your people, what do you do as a church?
Front porch church.
The chairman of deacons at FBC came to Pastor Stacy Reed with an idea. He remembered that their church often led “front porch church” on mission trips, and he posed the idea for their own town. “He came to us with a burden on his heart to reach those who couldn’t be reached [due to the pandemic],” Reed said.
Front porch provided a way for:
The vulnerable to connect.
Those in rural areas to participate.
Students and laypeople to serve.
Front porch church provided a way for people to grow and for God to be glorified.
The reality is that many people have faced hardships during this time. FBC has conducted three front porch church services so far, and they have been well received by the community. “We’ve seen tears in people’s eyes because some have faced real loneliness. We’ve had people write us ‘thank you’ letters because they were so grateful. Neighbors have even walked over with lawn chairs to join us,” Reed shared.
Although the church has done this to serve their people, they have in return been very encouraged. The front porch church sessions have been completely led by the church members, and the church staff has attended to provide support. With each session, different church members have served by leading worship with portable equipment, such as a keyboard. They usually gather on someone’s porch or any spacious area outside of someone’s home. The leaders of each porch session travel to other locations in Batesville so more people can join. They usually have a Bible study, worship and time of prayer. Overall, it has been a way for their church and community to fellowship while social distancing.
“We hope that we come out of this pandemic different than we came in – that our people will have more passion for reaching people… it’s a team effort with no individual superstars. You don’t have to have dynamic speakers and worship leaders, just people who love the Lord and want to love people,” Reed said.
Although the coronavirus pandemic can leave us feeling discouraged and defeated, God is still moving and growing His Church. May we be people who love the Lord and love people.