SPRINGFIELD – From Montreal, the Middle East and Ecuador to Branson and the homes in their own neighborhoods, the leadership and members of Ridgecrest Baptist Church here have committed to transforming lives through the gospel.
“I don’t think you can create a better vision than what Jesus already gave to the church, which was to go and make disciples,” Chad Grayson, pastor of Ridgecrest, said. “We want to be a church that is making Christ-centered disciples of all nations.”
During Ridgecrest’s annual “Missions Emphasis Week,” Jan. 31-Feb. 7, the church welcomes representatives from all of its global impact partners – that is, missionaries and ministries the church works with and supports – so that members can learn more about how they can engage in God’s mission around the world.
According to Grayson, church members have shown an increasing concern for making disciples both at home and around the globe – a passion that is evidenced by their pocketbooks. Last year, which was a record-year for the church’s giving overall, members gave roughly $300,000 to missions through Lottie Moon and through gifts to their global impact partners.
Grayson said that Ridgecrest members have caught the vision of “being Jesus with skin on,” so that others can see the love of Christ through them.
“Right now, we feel that we’re on the verge of revival, if it hasn’t already started,” Grayson said. He shared his excitement about a recent sermon series and initiative called, “Discipleship Training,” which challenges the people of Ridgecrest to search their hearts: “Am I a true, Christ-centered disciple?” The initiative will equip Ridgecrest members to follow Christ wholeheartedly and make disciples in their own neighborhoods.
“The light that shines furthest shines brightest at home,” Grayson said, sharing about his heart to see more people reached for Christ in Springfield. This desire has shaped various ministries in the area. The church encourages door-to-door evangelism efforts, it recently held a “Beast Feast” event that drew hundreds of men from around the area to hear the gospel, and it is home to the state’s largest Celebrate Recovery program.
This passion to make disciples and transform lives also shows in the church’s growing emphasis on orphan care, a ministry that Grayson explored in his doctoral dissertation.
“(Orphans) are easy to ignore until you see their face, hold them, actually talk to them. Then you can’t ignore them anymore,” Grayson, who gained a passion for the fatherless after reading David Platt’s book, Radical, and preaching the epistle of James.
“You’re never more like God than when you’re taking care of the helpless,” he added.
More and more church members are gaining a passion for this ministry, as well. Several are foster parents or are in the process of adopting, and the church supports orphanages around the world and dreams of building orphanages for children who fall through the cracks of other orphan care programs.
Despite their various ministry efforts, however, Grayson said the church has one ultimate goal: to draw people to a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.