A Small Church with Big Plans

Soon after Darin Worthington became the pastor of First Baptist Church of Leesville in Leesville, Louisiana, two years ago, outreach and evangelism became a major focus for him and his flock. 

The 125-year-old church had maintained a small congregation of fewer than 100 people, a number that rarely budged. Moreover, the congregation previously had held few outreach activities, Worthington says. 

“If you want to be obedient to the kingdom, you have to have outreach,” he adds, adding that First Baptist’s Sunday attendance has nearly doubled. “We’ve seen significant growth over these two years.” 

Before becoming pastor at First Baptist, Worthington had launched a pickleball outreach at his previous church. 

“From being a recreation minister for 25 years, I know that recreation is a front door for a lot of people,” he quips.

So, First Baptist raised a pickleball net and 40 people from across the community came to play within the first two weeks. Inspired by this success, the church launched a seated fitness class for senior adults. 

Four or five families have been reached because a family member started doing that class

Furthermore, the church decided to focus on reaching out to children and youth, and appointed a new youth minister. They began hosting dinners before Wednesday night youth church for preteens, teens and their families. 

“We were averaging about four or five youths. Now, with our new youth minister, we’re averaging between 25 and 30 on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings,” he observes. 

Other public church events include an Easter egg festival on Good Friday, VBS, a fall festival, and an outreach to teachers at a local elementary school. 

During pickleball games and other church events, Worthington uses the opportunity to converse with visitors. As he gets to know them over time, he shares the gospel and invites them to church. 

“We ought to present the gospel to everyone,” he states. “But if you can meet them where their physical needs are, they’re a whole lot more open when you want to talk to them about spiritual matters.”

Gail Allyn Short
Gail Allyn Shorthttp://gailashort.wordpress.com

Gail Allyn Short is freelance writer in Birmingham, Alabama. She leads a nursing home ministry and teaches a Bible study class for new believers at Integrity Bible Church.