By Dawn Zurmiller
CENTERTOWN—Centertown Baptist is a small-town church showing its huge heart as it joins Southern Baptists in an effort – known as God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) – to reach every person in North America with the Gospel message by the year 2020.
March was set aside to kick off this campaign with area churches reaching their communities through prayer walks and distributing informational packets door to door which include invitations to local Easter services.
Centertown Baptist has an average Sunday attendance of 50. This may be a modest number to some, but what the church lacks in number it makes up for in zeal.
“There’s an excitement in our church,” said Ginger Phelps. “We know there are people out there who don’t know the Lord, and we want to be out there where they are.”
“We know God’s Word tells us to go spread the Gospel,” said Margaret Higgins “It’s the Great Commission and our responsibility.”
However, make no mistake about it, these Christians are not merely doing this to add to their attendance, but rather to touch the community.
“Everyone was really receptive,” said Jeannie Imhoff. “I think people are hungry to be reached out to, and we want others to know our church is there to speak to their needs.”
Johnny Roush explained the process of what they are hoping to accomplish.
“We are going out and planting seeds, but we realize everybody we visit isn’t going to come to our church, and we know it could be years before we see some of the results,” he said. “Our job is to plant that seed and let God take it from there. It’s not necessarily about growing our church. It’s about growing people for Christ. If they end up going to another church but still find salvation, then hooray for God, and we’ll be happy at that.”
GPS participants have found it has furthered their own spiritual walks with God.
“I’ve always liked to visit with others,” said Centertown Baptist Pastor David Phelps, “but this has created a real discipline to go out into the community, and it has personified the needs and prayer requests of the individuals.”
In general, prayer lives have intensified.
“GPS has helped me re-center on other people,” said Ginger Phelps. “Now when I wake up in the night I wonder who it is that I am supposed to be praying for.”
Others tell how GPS has challenged them to do something out of the ordinary.
“I haven’t always been comfortable with going up to someone I don’t know and asking them to church,” Imhoff said. “This has pushed me out of my comfort zone and it was easier than I thought.”
GPS has strengthened the congregation as a whole.
“We’ve already gained in that it’s united us as a mission team and given us the satisfaction of working together and doing something for the community,” said Pastor Phelps. “I keep thinking of the scripture where the Lord says His Word will not return to Him empty, and we are putting the Word out there. I believe we’ll see results from that.”
Indeed, the church has already seen some fruit from their labor. The very next day after distributing information, one family came to church to learn more about the Savior. The church plans to follow up with not only this family but also anyone in the community who has shared prayer requests or interest in the Gospel message.