By Brian Koonce
BALLWIN – “How can we pray for you?” That was Castlewood Baptist Church’s message leading up to Easter and beyond.
It is part of the church reaching and loving its community, which has helped the church grow from last year when five to seven came on a Sunday to a recent Sunday when 55 came and six were baptized.
Before that day, there hadn’t been a baptism at Castlewood in at least three years. They had to chase bugs out of the baptistery before they could fill it up.
David Nowell has been pastoring Castlewood since last July. First they were running five to seven in attendance, then 18-20, then in the 30s. They have two adult Sunday School classes, two children’s classes and a preschool class.
In the weeks leading up to Easter, Castlewood, like many Missouri Baptist churches, was involved in GPS–God’s Plan for Sharing. After prayer walking 2,000 homes, they put their own twist on the door hangers inviting people to Easter Sunday services. They simply asked “How can we pray for you?”
“We wanted them to know that we are a praying church,” Nowell said. “When they come into need, when they’re hurt, I want them to remember that this church wants to pray with them and for them. I want them to say ‘I’m going to give them a call.’”
They’re not stopping there, however. Castlewood is continuing the prayer walking and reaching out into their community.
“A lot of churches are waiting for people to come to them,” Nowell said. “The Great Commission doesn’t say anything about sitting and waiting. The Castlewood folks want to go out and do something. I hear all this talk about being a missional church. It’s already in the Bible; you don’t need a new term for it. Just use the Great Commission. When we go out, stuff envelopes, go door-to-door, get everyone involved, that’s the key for getting a church off of dead center. You really have to be out in the field knocking on doors. R.G. Lee visited 20 people a day.”
Castlewood is planning to enlarge its fellowship hall and office space in anticipation of that growth.
“The way I look at, if we wait until we really need the space to think about building, once we max out our space and parking, we will lose prospects,” Nowell said. “So in order to grow, we need to be planning now and the church is on board with this. Eventually we will open up the property that is taken up by the trees to give us additional space.”
A key to Castlewood’s revitalization and physical growth is lay involvement, Nowell said.
“There are plenty of young men in our church who are on the fringe, who can help us build,” he said. “One thing that I am promoting is to pay as we go on this expansion. In other words, we do not need to go into debt to do this.”