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New congregation gets to work after surveying community needs

McMINNVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Shortly after CrossRoads Fellowship Church began on July 21, the new mission decided to survey one of its target communities — a subdivision where two or three of its core group members live.

One of the survey questions asked, “How can our church be valuable to you and your community?”

Response after response indicated work needed to be done on a local playground in McMinnville, Tenn., badly in need of repairs and renovation. The park had been started by the developer but never completed.

“Surveys are pointless if you don’t respond,” pastor Mike Gay said.

“I advocate doing more servant evangelism. It means more to the people because they see you really care and are not doing it just to get attention.”

Gay and members of the new congregation, which currently is meeting in a former cabinet shop on a key intersection in town (hence the name CrossRoads), assessed what needed to be done. Church member Darrin Hillis, who lives in the subdivision, coordinated the effort.

Contacted by the church, the developer of the subdivision agreed to provide some materials if CrossRoads would do the labor.

So one weekend in late October, members of CrossRoads repaired some of the playground equipment, including swings and the jungle gym, rebuilt a footbridge that crossed a gully in the middle of a grassy area in the park, and installed a basketball goal.

In a story which appeared in the Southern Standard in McMinnville, Gay noted that the park “was grown up to the point you couldn’t see there were picnic tables under a pavilion” in the park.

One of the first things they did was cut the grass that had grown so high children could not play there.

A dedication service was held at the renovated park a week after the work was done and the community was invited to a block party hosted by the church.

The event included games, entertainment and food.

Hillis told the Southern Standard that people in the 115-house subdivision are beginning to notice, among them a grandmother.

“She’s got two small grandchildren and said she’s been enjoying coming down here since it got cleaned up,” Hillis said.

Gay said community members expressed surprise when the church did the survey, but even more surprise when the church actually responded to their needs and concerns.

“It really got their attention,” the pastor said.

The day after the block party, four families showed up for worship at CrossRoads as a direct result, Gay added.

Since then, one of those families has joined, he reported.

Gay sees potential for more growth. A lot of new subdivisions have developed in the area, he said.

He also expects CrossRoads Fellowship Church, which is a mission of First Baptist Church in Smartt, to plan similar efforts, localized for specific communities or subdivisions.

“When you do something localized, it’s more intimate for the people,” Gay said. “They respond well because they know you’re doing it just for them.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: CARING FOR THE COMMUNITY.

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey

    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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