LULING—Central Baptist Church in Luling is too busy being the church to hold church services on Sunday evenings.
The congregation’s deacon-led Church Without Borders ministry sends members into the community, sharing Christ’s love in a variety of ways.
“I pointed out that we come to church Sunday mornings and Sunday night to talk about what Jesus wants us to do. Then on Wednesdays, we pray about what Jesus wants us to do. So, we decided Sunday evening was going to be about doing and not talking,” Pastor Cody Broussard said.
Six ministry teams meet at the church at 5 p.m., hold a short prayer time “asking that everything to be done that night will glorify God and bless people,” and then head out by 5:30 p.m. Everyone is back at the church facility by 6:45 p.m.
“Christ doesn’t just redeem us so we can enjoy it. We can do that in eternity. While we’re here, we’re to serve him,” Broussard said.
The church already was organized for service before Broussard arrived last October, he said. While seeking a pastor, the church honed and revamped its committee structure into five ministry teams, deacon Chairman Howard Morrow said. Rather than a nominating committee lining up committee members, people serve on the teams that match their passions.
“More church ministry is done when people are enthusiastic about it rather than from a sense of obligation,” Broussard pointed out.
But all the church’s heart for ministry and freeing people to minister matches well with Broussard’s concept of the church at work, said Dave Stone, associate minister of youth, education and outreach.
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“Where God was growing us as we were praying in the interim coincided with Cody’s plans for ministry. It’s been amazing to watch God work,” he said.
Broussard agreed. “I walked into a Mustang that just needed someone to press the gas pedal for them,” he said.
Neither Morrow, Stone nor Broussard takes credit for the congregation’s heart for ministry, however.
“I don’t think it’s our leadership that inspires people to perform as they do. It’s just the Lord,” Broussard said.
Central kicked off its Church Without Borders ministry on Easter, and it has taken a variety of forms.
Even before the deacons launched Church Without Borders, Stone led the congregation’s youth to start the No Strings Attached ministry. The team members serve—mowing lawns, putting quarters in washing machines at the laundromat, taking lunch to single mothers, washing windshields, and delivering pizza and soft drinks to the emergency room staff of the local hospital—without expecting anything in return.
One of the most successful efforts also was one of the least expensive—walking through a neighborhood and passing out free snow cones, Stone noted.
“It seems like the cheaper it is, the more meaningful it is,” he said.
The main thing is to get beyond the church walls and share the love of Christ, Stone added.
“People are not going to come to us anymore. We need to go out and share Christ’s love,” he said.
Almost always, people ask why they are doing acts of kindness, Stone said. “We tell them, ‘By serving you, we serve Christ.’
“We don’t always even say which church we’re from unless someone asks specifically. If the chance for evangelism comes up, we take it, but principally we’re planting seeds.”
Morrow leads a team that has changed light bulbs, built stairs for a trailer home, cut tree limbs, moved a refrigerator and other furniture, and filled the washer fluid reservoir on a woman’s car.
“We don’t want to limit it,” Morrow said, “but the idea is that it be something that can be done in one and a half hours and maybe one return visit.”
If on a particular Sunday night there is nothing on the “to do” list, the team works on the church building that was built in 1939. Another team visits the local nursing home and leads a worship service there.
“They are faithful and enthusiastic,” Broussard said. “And the wonderful thing is that some of those people are not really involved heavily in any other ministry, but that is where their passion is, and it fits their gifts perfectly.”
The poverty ministry transports and sorts 3,000 pounds of food at the local food bank each month.
The team also has taken on other projects at the food bank, like keeping the lawn mowed, so that the money that was spent on landscaping can be spent to feed the hungry.
Other teams visit prospects and shut-ins and make evangelistic visits.
The main ministry that takes place on church grounds is Financial Peace University classes, which draws about half its members from Central and half from the community.
“This is a fairly impoverished area, and it really meets a need in this community,” Broussard said. “It alleviates a stress, sometimes not recognized, that couples go through so that they can experience the joy that God intended for marriage.”
While some churches might have a hard time giving up their Sunday night service, God already had paved the way at Central, Broussard noted.
“During the interim period when they were searching for a pastor, there was no Sunday night service. When you look at God’s plan, it all fit together,” he said.
It began, though, when God put together a congregation of people with a desire to love people and love God, Broussard said.
“The church here is extremely benevolent. Every single week, we help the poor. Everything from the electric bill to helping a young woman whose husband was in jail for abuse, and we helped provide heaters for her and her children. That benevolent heart is ongoing. And serving and loving gives us the right to proclaim the gospel,” he said.
Central Baptist Church has a long history of service, he points out. For the last several years, the church has distributed cold water at the Luling Watermelon Thump parade that swells the town’s population to 25,000 people one day a year. At Halloween, the church provides a safe place for children. At Christmas, the church provided toys and a sleigh ride with Santa to impoverished children.
“That night, it was cold and a couple of our people gave their coats to some children in short sleeves. I had been here just a couple of months, and that was the first time that I realized just how blessed I was to be the pastor here,” Broussard said.
Cheryl Dickerson has worked with several of the teams, and she looks forward to the opportunities to serve. “God has blessed me so much, the least I can do is serve him. It’s in my blood.”
Deacon Mike Barnett, whose grandfather helped build the church, agreed.
“This church has always had the potential to be the church that reaches this community. I think the Lord has strategically placed this church here to do that,” he said.
“Dave (Stone) says, ‘When we’re serving others, you’re serving Christ,’ and that says it. I serve because I’ve been beyond blessed. I’ve been blessed more than I deserve—and then some.”