Washington Baptist Church is located in the middle of Washington, Vermont, a village of ﬁve hundred people. At one time, the church was the social center of the community, but in 1993, the church had dwindled to less than twenty active members and was facing possible closure. The church’s denominational leadership encouraged the church to call a young pastor who would focus on reaching the next generation. They did so, and he led the church to host a variety of concerts, outdoor barbecues, and sports activities designed to help the church regain its position as the place where exciting social events happened.
The community responded positively to those eﬀorts because in the collective consciousness of the community, the church had a long history of doing such events even though the church had not done them recently. When that young pastor moved to a new church in 2001, the church had returned to a place of health. The congregation had more than tripled in size and become significantly younger than it had been in many years. The congregation continued to host a variety of community events each year, and in 2007, the church called a second staﬀ member to serve as a youth pastor to more eﬀectively reach the next generation. In 2012 the church continues to be healthy and clearly remains the social center of the village.
If our church seems to have lost touch with our community, it might be time to start hosting a variety of social events. Obviously social events alone will not give the Gospel to our community, but they will build a bridge. As we reconnect with our community through social events, then we will have more openings to share the Gospel with those who need to hear it.
Adapted from the book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church.