The buzz around the 2017 Back 2 School Connection was louder than a bug zapper on Middle George summer night. The first drove into the FBCE parking lot at 8:40AM. A line happy parents and sleepy kids began weaving around the sidewalks of First Baptist Church Eastman at 9AM. The event did not start for another hour. When the glass doors to FBCE’s Children’s Ministry Center were swung open at 10AM, more than 300 people began pouring into FBCE.
The stats alone reveal that the 2017 Back 2 School Connection was an amazing success. But the greatest part of the Back 2 School Connection was the event’s ability to foster relationships.
Back in 2015, George Smith, former Associate Pastor- Joe Daniel, and I launched the Back 2 School Connection.
Our heart was twofold. First, we know that many hardworking families struggle to provide for their children’s needs. We wanted to bless and encourage the single moms and the couples who are working hard but continual find the bank accounts short. We also wanted to directly encourage kids and so that would feel at home when the come to FBCE.
But second and most importantly, we launched the event desiring to foster meaningful relationships with people outside the walls and culture of FBCE for the expansion of the gospel. We wanted the Back 2 School Connection to be one of many front doors into our church. We wanted our nieghbors to experience the truth people that FBCE is more than the big, cold, scary building on the corner of Oak and Sixth Street. We want our friends to know to that we are a thriving, living body of men and women dedicated to loving God and loving each other.
I am happy to report that the Back 2 School Connection is proving to be a bridge into the families of Dodge County. Unknown faces that walked though our doors three years ago, our now the familiar. They are now the faces of children who regularly attend our Wednesday night program. They are now the faces of kids who come to camp with us. They are now the faces children who come to Sunday school. They are the faces of our friends and neighbors.
And they are also the faces of our new neighbors. This year several new families came onto the FBCE’s campus for the first time. They learned that we have a youth group; they learned that we have kids programing on Wednesday night. They learned that there is a church in Eastman that has a heart for them and that wants to share Christ with them.
These relationships are vitally important to FBCE and to the expansion of the kingdom. Many people think evangelism consists of running quickly through a tract, demanding a prayer before running back home to your church as fast as you can. We fear getting deeply involved in people’s lives. That is not the gospel.
The gospel model by Jesus consists of eating with people; it consists of inviting people into our homes and churches; and, it consists of getting deeply involved in the lives of others. If we hope to reach the world with the gospel, we have to take the time to know our neighbors. And as we fulfill the law of God by loving others, we will have ample opportunity to share the good news of Jesus.
The numbers are great because they point to opportunities for relationships and for kingdom expansion.
I am happy to report that did have some amazing numbers. We served over 300 meals! We handed out 491 backpacks to children in Eastman. And we connected with 227 families. Literally hundreds of families were blessed with the backpack and were introduced to the gospel and to the people of God.
The Back 2 School Connection was an amazing success. I am so thankful for all who help! To God be the Glory!
If you helped with the Back 2 School Connection or would encouraged by the event, please share your experience below!