By Anna Keller
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist
For the past eight years, Lookout Mountain Baptist Association churches have designated a weekend to put toward community relationship building.
This annual event, which has come to be known as Outreach Saturday, has had participation from the association each year since it began.
“We were inspired to begin an annual ‘day we all go visiting’ while searching and seeking God’s will concerning our lost neighbors in the church community,” said Lloyd Borden, director of missions for Lookout Mountain Baptist Association. “Most all our churches have some form of outreach, some more organized than others. We believed if we could get members of a church together on a Saturday morning for prayer and a visiting plan, good results could be expected.”
An added benefit of the event, Borden said, is that it gives church members a focused opportunity to share their testimonies with people in their own community — something many members may not have had a chance to do outside of an event like this one.
‘Based on needs’
“The plan for the day is fairly open, with places to visit being based on needs that are shared with the group,” Borden said. “We ask our churches to let us know how the day went, sharing any numbers or successes they have experienced. We always have response from some of those who are visited and our members are always strengthened by the fact they have prayed, walked and driven our rural roads, sharing Christ.”
This year’s Outreach Saturday was Oct. 21, and James Maples, pastor of Welcome Hill Baptist Church in the Sand Rock community, said his church took the opportunity to both go out into the community and invite local residents to their church by throwing a fall festival event.
They wanted their youth to take a lead role in this year’s Outreach Saturday and ultimately had seven youth, three youth leaders and a handful of additional church members and staff for a total of 13 participants.
“Our youth pointed us to many homes with children their age, and they really took initiative in inviting their peers to church and to our fall festival,” Maples said. “We began the day by splitting into smaller groups to go visit members of our community. We had a new family move in a home close to our church, and we made a priority to visit with them and welcome them to our community. We also visited shut-in, ailing and recently absent church members. As we visited, we passed out flyers for our church fall festival which took place that night.”
All the homes that Welcome Hill members visited were friendly and receptive, Maples said.
At their fall festival that evening, the church had food, carnival games, a cake walk, hay rides and a bonfire. The event attracted about 80 people — the majority of whom were not church members.
“For our small country church, this was an amazing turnout, and we’re so thankful to everyone who helped make it great,” Maples said. “It was a great time for fellowship … and such a blessing to meet so many new people.”