Timely Team Up

The small town of Crawford, Texas, is dotted with churches, but their size is reflective of the town’s population—small. Fewer than 1,000 people call Crawford home, which begs the question, When every church is small, how does any one church alone reach and serve the community for Christ? 

For at least three of those churches, partnership is the answer.

“We really make an attempt to work together and get beyond those types of natural barriers to do the work that we all need to do,” says Pastor Kent Berry of Crawford Methodist Church, which welcomes about 50 people on an average Sunday.

Berry and the pastors of a local Lutheran and Baptist church work together to operate a food pantry (the Baptist church stores and distributes the food, and the other pastors collect donations). The three pastors also maintain a ministerial alliance fund at the local bank, to which all three contribute as they’re able, and also withdraw from as valid needs arise. For example, when a family traveling through town broke down and needed gas, they reached out to the Lutheran pastor, who notified the other pastors of the need, received their blessing, and withdrew the cash to cover the cost of fuel.

Crawford Methodist also holds a lot of its own outreach events throughout the year, such as a parade, a movie night and a pumpkin patch. Their biggest annual event is Lord’s Acre, a November fundraiser held in the local high school’s cafeteria that includes hamburgers for purchase and an auction. 

Past recipients of the fundraiser have included Methodist Children’s Home in Waco, Texas, and The Salvation Army. Last November, the church chose to give all proceeds to the local volunteer fire department, who they knew didn’t have and couldn’t afford a hydraulic rescue tool, also known as Jaws of Life, which can cost around $9,000–$10,000, Berry adds. 

But Crawford Methodist couldn’t raise funds for something like that on their own. 

“We’re only successful because all the other churches come and buy a hamburger [and bid in the auction],” he notes. “People donate stuff for the auction; that can even be cattle and beef. We have ranchers in our church who do that almost every year.” 

Church members from all three churches purchase goods they probably would have bought elsewhere anyway, except now their money is poured back into uplifting the community. 

Berry’s advice for other small church pastors considering such a partnership?

“Connect with each other through common ministries. Have designated people from each church who would be a part of those committees, so that you could work together to the extent that everyone knows what they’re doing together. It’s not one-upmanship or self-promotion. If you’re working these things together, it’s promoting the reality of God in people’s lives through Christ. That’s really what we’re after.”

Jessica Hanewinckel
Jessica Hanewinckel

Jessica Hanewinckel is an Outreach magazine contributing writer.