LAS VEGAS – In the nearly 14 years since retired Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Fields became pastor, Nellis Baptist Church has continued and added several ministries to ever more effectively reach its community.
At the same time the church has maintained a double-digit allocation of its undesignated offerings for missions through the Cooperative Program, the mechanism Southern Baptists churches use to work together in support of state, national and international ministries and missions.
“We want our best and first fruit to be given in a way that brings forth a bountiful yield,” Fields said. “When we release funds to the Cooperative Program, we’re certain they’ll be distributed to areas of greatest needs.
“Our church body is convinced more Kingdom work can be done in cooperation within the body of Christ than we could accomplish on our own. There’s an advantage to being part of a large family when things need to get done.”
Founded in 1956 by a group from the nearby Nellis Air Force Base Chapel, Nellis Baptist averaged about 160 people for worship before the COVID-19 pandemic (and has had “three times over” online since). The church is involved in serving its community through seven entities and also reaches out to Zimbabwe and Honduras.
Many Nellis members have served on associational and state convention committees, and Fields said he “was blessed” to serve as president of the Nevada Baptist Convention in 2015 and 2016.
“Pastor Greg is a wonderful shepherd of the flock,” Nevada Baptist Convention Executive Director Kevin White said. “Pastor Greg’s heart for God and for the people he serves is an inspiration to my soul. I’m so thankful God has placed him in Nevada!”
Reflecting on when he first got involved in the state convention, Fields said, “It was amazing to see the far-reaching cooperative works being done, and the benefits afforded so many people within and outside of the continental U.S. It broadens your perspective to what we call kingdom work.”
Nellis Baptist’s vision involves promoting ministry opportunities that advance the Gospel of Christ, the pastor said. Its motto is “Bearing fruit for Christ,” from Proverbs 11:30.
Members already were skilled in the church’s food pantry ministry when Fields arrived. They’d been serving the community for about 25 years. By this spring – until the pandemic caused the food pantry to temporarily close – the church was ministering to approximately 450 people a month through this one ministry. Since then the church has been working with the local food bank to provide outdoor food stations for those in need.
Mision Internacional Roca Eternal is a Spanish-speaking congregation that has met in Nellis Baptist’s building since 2006. The two congregations regularly collaborate to worship and serve together.
The church’s also works with a local women’s medical center, a women’s recovery center and ministers to local law enforcement.
Another ongoing ministry is the church’s Friday Night Family Night, which provides youth activities and events. Medical students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas heard about this ministry last year and asked the church how they could participate. Today the medical students befriend and tutor the students, especially in math and English, and check on community members’ medical needs.
For the last three years, Nellis Baptist has provided direct support for a national pastor in Zimbabwe, who faithfully shares the Gospel in several villages; and the last two years has provided resources for a missionary couple enduring hardships in remote areas of Honduras.
Since April, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Nellis Baptist to be “more creative in reaching and teaching our community in light of social distancing,” Fields said. “How does the church continue to be the church? How do we remain relevant in a time COVID-19 has caused people to pull back and become dulled to the impact of our mission?”
Fields and other church leaders took on the task of teaching members to use Facebook Live for Sunday worship and for devotions the pastor started holding this spring at 11 a.m. each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They hold mid-week evening Bible studies via Zoom.
“This pandemic has afforded me the blessing of being drawn closer to God – my dependence on Him has grown in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” Fields said. “Many teaching moments have helped me to see life from His perspective. I hope and pray as we transition through COVID-19 we come out with a greater hunger and thirst for the knowledge of Christ, and a desire to see the kingdom advanced through the message of the Gospel.”