ST. LOUIS – Thirty families in the South County area of St. Louis received free Christmas gifts for their children through a recent outreach project of Canaan Baptist Church. Pastor Daniel Carr told The Pathway it was a fairly easy project to set up.
“We had church members and a guidance counselor at our school link us to thirty families, and we set up a Christmas store at our church.” There were 78 kids from the thirty families that came through the “store.”
The kids were directed to do some craft projects with some of the volunteers while their parents went in another room to shop for presents for the kids. Every family that attended was “unchurched,” the pastor said. They shared “gospel conversations” with all of the families
And the next Sunday two of the families attended Canaan Baptist Church worship services.
This is a normal kind of occurrence at Canaan Baptist. Pastor Carr says, “The Great Commission says go and make disciples. We believe we should be intentional ‘as you go.’”
He added, “To not do that is to not fulfill the Great Commission.”
Earlier in the year the church helped out at a nearby tourist-oriented project in the historical town of Kimmswick. The 1880s themed town has shops, restaurants and museums and many in the area go there to shop and relax.
The town was organizing a Christmas festival with a “cookie walk” for people to stroll through the village getting cookies, hot chocolate and listening to Christmas carolers. Through a personal connection with some of the organizers, the pastor linked the church to the effort, and they had 90 volunteers go there and help with the festivities that day.
Organizers said they did it “to let our community know that we are here to serve them and make Christ known. We wanted them to understand that Christ loves them, and so does Canaan Baptist Church. And we did that by jumping in and taking care of a lot of details so the business owners could focus on their business. We were there to build relationships with the business owners in the town and show Christ to them.”
They considered it a missional project, and they were able to have about 70 gospel conversations that day as they gave out the refreshments.
They didn’t do it this year, but in the past Canaan Baptist has sponsored a “Bethlehem Marketplace” re-enactment of the Christmas nativity. Pastor Carr said they found about 90 percent of the attenders were church people, so they passed on doing that this year in favor of the other projects which have more contact with lost people.
“It is great to serve people in the community.” he said. “But the best thing about all of this is we were able to bring the church together for outreach – something that COVID had kind of brought to an end.”
In South County St. Louis they want people to know the Lord, and they are quite willing to use Christmas time as a launching point for sharing their faith.