Cool Spring Baptist Church Mobilizes over 1,200 Folks to Serve Community
Posted: 5/27/15 at 2:30pm. Story by Linda Peay. Photos courtesy Cool Spring Baptist Church.
What does it take to mobilize a congregation of over 1,200 people to serve its community? A great big God and a whole lot of planning.
What started out as a mere discussion in 2014 became a three-day weekend of serving within the local community.
Dr. Brad Hoffman, pastor at Cool Spring Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, along with Missions and Discipleship Minister Bryan Dupuis, and other Teaching Team staff members wondered what it would look like to get the congregation to jump in and move beyond the church walls.
Cool Spring experiences regular Sunday attendance of over 1,000 members within the four worship services offered. About 500 members are active in different ministries across the church, along with others who are less active and not as engaged with church activities.
Hoffman wanted to tap into the hearts of the whole church, wherever they were on their spiritual journeys. With the Spirit leading them, he and the team designed a serving event to engage the community for the weekend of May 1-3, 2015.
At the beginning of the year, Cool Spring assembled a team to brainstorm partners with whom the church could engage.
They identified 46 partnerships, generating over 80 serving projects with varying distances, necessary skill levels and for different ages. Each team had a project captain to coordinate details and upload pictures to Instagram as the day unfolded.
Dupuis said there were a handful of opportunities including ones that did not require much walking. There was even one onsite group of eight women who painted birdhouses for Habitat for Humanity and packed snack bags for the Hospitality House. Three of the ladies were over 90 years old.
The largest group included 80 people to clean up East End Cemetery. Dupuis said that one could not tell where the headstones were because the property was so overgrown. “It looked like a forest,” he said. They were only able to clear a portion of the location but the group has future plans to help finish the work.
The planning team figured there would be at least 500 people who would readily sign up to serve. They knew hearts were being reached when the number of participants grew to over 600, with momentum continuing to at least 1,227 registering.
Dupuis said he had signup sheets on locations where people would register when they arrived to serve. Afterwards he compared the pre-event sign-ups to the on-site ones, and the numbers were close within each other. “People pledged to serve, and they showed up ready to make a difference,” said Dupuis.
As project ideas began to grow on the list, the church heard from people who were interested to help. One suggestion was to help a member of the community with yardwork. This person was sick with cancer and was a popular employee at Cool Spring Elementary School. Sadly, she passed away the week before iServe weekend.
The family, who were not members of a church, agreed for the team to still come by if they so wanted. Coincidentally, the team was composed of people who have experienced grief in their lives, and in addition to helping with yard work, they were able to minister to the family.
There were no church services that Sunday morning as the weekend was blocked out for iServe. The planning team treated participants with a Sunday afternoon BBQ featuring fellowship and story sharing.
“I come from Texas and had done community-wide opportunities while there, however, not ever to this scale. This was a very moving experience for all of us,” Hoffman said. “The most exciting piece of this weekend was to hear the stories that lit a fire into people to serve,” he added.
Dupuis said “No logo t-shirts were distributed to identify us because we wanted to keep things low-key. Serving was what it was all about.”