When Les Puryear noticed a few years ago that more than a few members of his small congregation were adopted, he knew it was no coincidence.
As senior pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church in Lewisville, N.C., he saw a unique opportunity for his church to reach out to young women in crisis. As a result, several members now donate time and money to a local crisis pregnancy center, including serving as counselors and sharing the Gospel.
“Jesus left heaven to come to us,” Puryear says. “We need to get outside the building and off the property … and engage people where they already are.”
Puryear always had a passion for outreach and missions but struggled to ignite it in his congregation of just under 200 people.
The turning point, Puryear says, was taking the time to focus on God’s promise in Acts 1:8, that “ … you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV) After a 13-week sermon series on that verse, church members were eager to make a difference.
In addition to helping at the pregnancy center, some members began coaching youth sports at the YMCA. Then came outreach events like an Easter egg hunt and a “Trunk or Treat” Halloween alternative.
The church also reached out beyond its community. It supports a church plant in Pennsylvania and partners with a mission project in Ecuador that includes pastor training and church planting. The church sent a group of men with Puryear in March to assess the needs in Ecuador and two more working trips are planned.
Puryear admits that he has big goals, but he points out: “It’s a great dynamic for growing in Christ and seeing God at work. When things happen in a small church, it has to be God.”
Les Puryear, formerly pastor of Lewisville Baptist Church, now serves as a bivocational pastor at the church plant Cornerstone Community Church in Clemmons, N.C.
FROM THE BEST OF OUTREACH: A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Outreach magazine.
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