Pew-sitting does not suffice at church formed to reach out in missions.
By Josh Hayter
When Pastor Charlie Brown founded The Crossing Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, he made it clear to members pew-sitting would not suffice. He wanted them to minister outside their sanctuary and serve people.
“It was part of my heart that our church would be involved in missions and that our people would be directly involved,” Brown said. “The purpose of the church significantly includes getting out of the church building and doing anything and everything we can to impact our community and as much of the world as possible.”
The Crossing Baptist Church organized its first mission trip to El Paso eight years ago and has ministered somewhere along the Rio Grande every year since.
Members have served a colonia in the Lower Rio Grande Valley four consecutive years with KidsHeart, a partnership between Buckner International, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Texas and Literacy Connexus. Members share the gospel, build or upgrade homes and meet physical and emotional needs.
“When the church saw the work first hand and experienced it, they were hooked,” he said. “When we arrived, there were so many needs in the colonia. We were just overwhelmed. Our people fell in love with that area. …
“The more they served, the more they gained a real sense of purpose and clear understanding about what it meant to love Jesus and serve Jesus. Now we’re just kind of addicted to doing all kinds of missional stuff.”
The church continues to make the trip because of the relationships they have developed with people in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Every time we go down it’s like a big family reunion,” he said. “There’s just a great time of celebration and worshiping together. It’s just a great joy when Christian brothers and sisters are reunited after they’ve been apart.”
By demonstrating consistency through the years in the Rio Grande Valley, members of the Mesquite church have established trust with people there.
“The people this past year recognized we continue to return, and we’re not going to be somebody that’s going to show up in their community, do something and then just disappear and forget about them,” he said.
Each year, The Crossing Baptist Church has sponsored a women’s ministry in the colonia. Typically, 15 to 20 women participated, he said. This year, it attracted 50 women—and they brought their husbands.
“They came because they recognized the trust relationship,” he said, “They realized we were serious—we were there for the long haul.”
Adults in the colonia began to discuss ways they could help their own community with the support of The Crossing Baptist Church.
“It became more of a joint venture of the people we were trying to reach. Now they’re turning around and joining us in the work.”
The Crossing Baptist Church also seeks to find and meet needs close to home. One church member who has a passion for work with homeless women leads members twice a month to minister at The Center of Hope, a homeless shelter in downtown Dallas, under the leadership of Gospel to the Americas. Members direct chapel services once a month for the women and once a month for the children.
Members from The Crossing Baptist Church also mentor children at a public school in their neighborhood, in addition to leading a worship service in a rest home every Sunday morning.
“We want to be serious about making disciples. To me, the best way to do that is to do as much hands-on ministry as possible. You can sit in a Sunday school room and have an outstanding Bible study, but until you go and take those truths and put them into practical application, you never truly grasp a clear understanding of what that truth looks like.”
Brown believes every church should ask: “If our church closed its doors would the community notice. Would it matter?”
“Look around,” he said. “If your church does not have a redemptive presence, a presence of Christ in the community, then I would say the church is falling short of its mission. Period.
“There’s a clear biblical mandate to be involved in missions. The length of time has nothing to do with it. It’s a present-day imperative and it will not go away.”
Brown encourages churches to start by plugging into their own community. Start by finding real needs and addressing them and enlisting a few committed people.
“If you see that need and a few people begin to address that, then the enthusiasm and the testimony that comes out of that ministry will inspire the rest of the congregation,” he said. “And that vision and that passion will begin to spread. …
“That is the church being the church. The church is not us coming here on Sunday morning. The church is the body of Christ going into the world all during the week in a variety of different ways finding how do we plug in and impact and influence people’s lives and bring transformation to a crazy culture. It’s part of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. It should be part of our DNA. It is who we are and what we should be doing. It’s why we exist.”