Published December 30, 2010
“Families in the church need to worship together, serve together and play together,” says Alan Morris, minister of preschool and children at First Baptist Church (FBC) in Duluth. When families do these things together the impact on the children is immeasurable as they see missions and ministry in action. This vision has led the staff of FBC to involve whole families in the church in mission and outreach opportunities. “I love to see kids and their families “get” the big picture … that there are people who need our help right here in our own communities and schools.”
But the vision was even bigger than that. Last May, the church sent 12 families to Savannah for a four-day mission experience with the goal to serve “the least of these” and partner with some sister ministries in the Savannah area. Those who participated in the trip ranged in age from 18 months to retirees. Everyone played an important part in the ministry efforts.
“Our desire in planning the trip was to provide an opportunity for families to serve together and to promote a healthy view of being on mission as a family. In addition, the team members gained a better understanding of where some of their Cooperative Program dollars go and how this money is used to spread the message of Christ around our state through various ministry efforts.”
The group partnered with Pastor Harry Coursey at the Savannah Baptist Center in multiple ministry areas that included preparing and serving a mid-day meal on Friday and hosting a block party on Saturday for those who live in the Savannah Housing Authority apartments and homeless in the area. The third ministry partner for this mission experience was Doug Garvin, lead pastor at Canvas Church, a new church plant in Pooler, Georgia. The team joined the staff from Canvas in a Community Block Party to help promote their presence in the community and to encourage the church as they strive to transform Savannah with the love of Christ.
Mark Hearn, senior pastor at FBC Duluth, says that getting entire families involved in missions and ministry is a fulfillment of the church’s mission and vision. “We are a multi-generational church in a multi-ethnic community and every generation in the church needs to be involved in reaching our community for Christ.”
“Project: Feed the Need!” was the latest ministry involving every generation in the church. The concept was designed for families in need to be able to share a Thanksgiving meal around their own table without having to walk through a serving line to be fed. “Our desire was to maintain their dignity as much as possible and serving each family a fully cooked meal in their own home was our way of accomplishing this goal,” according to Hearn. This November, on Thanksgiving morning, the church family delivered meals to 117 needy families in the community around the church.
How were families and the younger generations involved in this? First of all, the food and other items used to provide this outreach was fully funded through the offering received from the kids who attended Vacation Bible School. This past year the kids raised $4,300 and that covered the expenses in full. Additionally, many of the volunteers who helped prepare, package, and deliver the meals were children, under close supervision of their parents and the kitchen team. It was truly a family affair and gave special meaning to this year’s Thanksgiving celebration.
Families on mission can impact lives for eternity. Chris Bryan is the youth minister at the church. He shared that as a 10-year-old boy he was taken by his father, a pastor in Augusta at the time, on a mission trip to Russia. That trip and seeing what took place changed his entire perception of missions. Families doing this together so children can see their parents involved can truly change a child’s understanding of missions and the direction of a young person’s life. It can also provide an opportunity for the family and the church to grow in their support of mission causes in Georgia and around the world.
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