ST. JOSEPH – Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church here substituted its normal Sunday morning Bible study classes, April 18, with sessions aimed at helping adults learn how to reach and disciple the next generation. The Frederick Family Conference drew a larger crowd—more than 10% larger—than FBBC’s recent average attendance.
“We had quite a few families with young children come, some of them for the first time,” says FBBC Senior Pastor Scott Gilbert. Around 500 people attended, which “speaks to the interest that many have in ensuring that the church partners well with the home in ministering to the next generation.”
The conference was part of FBBC’s “family equipping” ministry model to train members—whether or not they have children—in reaching and discipling the next generation.
The conference was spread over a Saturday evening and throughout the Sunday morning adult Bible study period. It was designed so every individual could discover their role in reaching and discipling children, teens, and college students.
Switching out the regular Bible study classes for breakout sessions allowed participants to gain tools in discipling different generations, gather information about foster care and adoption options, get guidance on living one’s faith in today’s culture, and reach out in the community.
“The goal was really to minister to everyone,” Gilbert says.
“Whether they are single or married, whether they’re parents or grandparents, whether they are empty-nesters or have no children…(anyone) can play a role in discipling the kids and teens in our church and ministering to those outside.”
The family conference also fit FBBC’s desire to move “deeper, stronger, farther,“ Gilbert says. “We’re seeking to grow deeper in a relationship with Christ, grow stronger as a church, and go farther out with the gospel.”
Going farther means providing opportunities for the church to “impact on the city for the needs of people here and for the gospel going forth in our city,” he says.
Every month the church opens its facility to the Second Harvest Community Food Bank for a drive-thru food distribution. FBBC’s annual iServe event brings young students together from local churches to serve in community projects such as nursing home visits, neighborhood clean-up events, and in-home meal distribution. More than 1,000 children have participated in iServe since 2009.
In 1999, FBBC established the Center For Biblical Counseling (CBC). It’s led by Certified Biblical Counselor Vikki Crouch, who provides biblically-based, free counsel to people struggling with marital issues, addictions, and other life challenges.
Gilbert says Crouch’s work has helped many people reconcile relationships or work through issues while giving them “the truth about who God is and what His word says.”
Begun by a layperson with sign language training, the church’s deaf ministry includes a handful of translators who provide Bible study to a deaf fellowship and also interpret for Sunday services that are aired online. The ministry has attracted new members but more importantly, “some have had the gospel presented to them in their language,” Gilbert says.
The church offers intergenerational programs to help families grow deeper in their faith.
Every other week Moms For Life meets. It’s similar to Mothers of Preschoolers where women can offer and receive parenting encouragement and help. Another program, Apples of Gold, partners mature female mentors to younger women. Practical faith-building activities range from topical Bible studies to cooking demonstrations.
Complementing the women’s ministries are specific men’s activities, including a mentoring program, annual retreat, and conference to help men grow as Godly individuals, husbands, and fathers.
FBBC’s unique Equip U is a teaching course devoted to strengthening Christian disciples through studies in theology, church history, and apologetics.
Aside from these programs and ministries FBBC has dozens more that touch every age group to help engage them in the church and grow in Christ.
“We hope to see the Spirit stirring in people to step up and do the things God is calling them to do,” Gilbert says. “We want every single person in the congregation using the gifts God has given them to serve.”