“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23
A church in Jemison, Alabama, where it’s legal to pack some heat, turned an overgrown gully behind their church into a ministry, complete with guns, bullets and the Bible. In this town of about 2,500 people, Pastor Phillip Guin says that originally it was to be a gun range used to teach firearm safety. Many in the congregation either hunt or are gun enthusiasts. But about a year ago, that changed. The thought of a ministry started to dawn on them and the safety training turned into the Rocky Mount Hunt and Gun Club as a way to try and connect more people to their church.
“This is an opportunity for us to reach out in the name of Jesus Christ in a setting that is completely unique. Even odd by some people’s standards. But who’s to say that church can’t happen right here,” Pastor Guin exclaimed, pointing to the brightly painted targets. The Jemison Police Department especially like the gun range and now train there on a regular basis and even help offer training courses to the public.
I don’t own firearms and the idea of a gun club right behind a church makes me kind of shudder. However, in watching the news story about the church in Jemison it reminded me of a men’s event we did. In fact, I recently had a conversation about it with someone in our church who, along with his son, had tried skeet shooting for the first time. During my time in New Brunswick we arranged through the local gun club for an introduction to the sport of Skeet Shooting. Young men and husbands, who never or rarely attended church, enthusiastically accepted invitations to come out to this event. The club members were great hosts and we had optimal weather conditions. It was a crisp, blue sky day, with hardly a whisper of wind. I have great memories of learning how to skeet shoot, but best of all, more than a few of those men who joined us that day continued to check out our church, as well as some later coming to faith in Christ.
I would be up for another opportunity to skeet shoot and organize an event around it (anyone know where we could do so?). Yet, the reality is that there are a myriad of ways that we can prayerfully and creatively plan events and opportunities to connect with the unchurched (or dechurched) all around us. As another example, a few weeks ago I read about a church that after they finished having their Vacation Bible School, decided to try putting it on again at their local Nursing Home. Some seniors remembered VBS when they were younger and loved being a part of doing the crafts, singing the songs, and experiencing Bible skit stories once more. Again, best of all, though a good number of the residents had never really attended or belonged to a church, through the cheerful VBS curriculum, and the enthusiastic leaders and helpers, many heard the gospel story for the first time. Karen Prior, who shared this story on Christianity Today’s website, wrote “In our efforts to dream up creative outreach for the church, we can sometimes overlook the opportunities in front of us. Repurposing existing VBS materials for a three-day session in a local nursing home was pretty simple. Yet this outreach demonstrates a powerful way to serve the elderly and to celebrate the intergenerational nature of the church.”
I trust that we too at NMBC, like the Apostle Paul before us, will prayerfully and continually look for opportunities to “become all things to all people” so that we can see some come to faith in Christ and be saved.
Thanks for meandering along with me,