FESTUS – A church plant here is living up to its name in servicing the Lord.
“We want to love God and love people with the Great Command (‘Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, strength…) and with the Great Commission,” said pastor Scott Douglas.
Douglas and wife Theresa, both Hannibal-LaGrange graduates, were in different churches since the mid 1990s serving in student, music, and children’s ministries.
“I had the opportunity to serve in full-time church staff in the area. In early 2016, we started praying about a church plant. There are many good churches in Festus, but I learned about the (community) lostness. The number of children in foster care has grown from under 500 in our community to more than 700. Most of the foster care need is from drug use in families.”
The couple, their son and three daughters, began Impact in their home in March 2016, and publically since May in afternoon worship in a Methodist church. In November, they intentionally and strategically began meeting in a middle school to reach part of the community, using the Methodist church sound equipment.
“We prayed for clarity to know what to do and for courage,” Douglas said, adding that the MBC has offered great help.
What began with about 12 people in a home church has almost tripled – now averaging 30-35. Two were baptized in July and another woman said she is finding her place in life.
With encouragement from a social caseworker in their church, the Douglas family now has two foster children.
“Our children have been supportive of the church plant. When we asked them about foster care, one daughter said ‘we have a good home. Why would we not do this?’ I’m proud of them. We’re having a greater impact with our kids having the foster children,” Douglas said.
“We never planted a church before. We wanted to be a different church reaching those that don’t go to church or used to go to church. There are a lot of ‘used-to-goes.’ We want to be a friend to the friendless, father to the fatherless, and we want to point people to Jesus.
“They don’t care the color of the carpet, which version of the Bible is used or if you have a fall festival. The gospel must be central to our focus. We want to give a reason for the hope within us.”
“We’ve had other people ask us great questions. We want to meet needs in the community and see where the church can intersect.”
Douglas encourages his congregation to reach even one neighbor in a practical way each week.
In September, about 100 students were at a See-You-At-the-Pole event. School staff said previously only 25-30 attended. Also in September, they assisted in a Twin City Days pancake breakfast. In December, Impact sent out “Grocery Ninjas” to help 10 people with groceries, as led by the Holy Spirit.
In the latter event, church members went to stores seeking people to give a gift card in the store.
“One lady who received a card previously prayed, ‘God show me you still love me and you haven’t given up.’ Another recipient said, ‘You have no idea what this means to my family.’”
Douglas said other churches could start having members, especially males, go through a background check and be available even to greet kids at school coming off a bus.
“Some kids don’t have a positive male role model. It grows our faith. We’re given the opportunity to tell others what He has done for us,” Douglas said.