By Jeff Brumley
Sometimes, being “missional” means developing innovative ministries and programs that push churches out of buildings into their communities. At other times it just means paying attention to the calendar.
Susan Rogers and her congregation at The Well at Springfield took advantage of the latter approach Tuesday night after realizing a long planned door-knocking/cookie-delivering event would be occurring on the anniversary of 9-11.
So The Well, a Cooperative Baptist missional church plant in Jacksonville, Fla., quickly added another stop to the 100-plus homes on the list: Fire Station No. 2 in the heart of Springfield.
Not only did a visit to the station in one of the city’s most troubled urban neighborhoods fit into the overall goal of being neighborly, Rogers said, it also was in keeping with the church’s missional purpose.
“It’s an expression of our belief that God does not expect us to passively wait in our church space for people to come to us,” she said.
Not that The Well does much waiting around in their church space.
For one, they don’t have church space. The congregation worships in rented space next door to a Springfield restaurant, and holds office hours in an edgy coffee shop nearby.
And the congregation’s ministries are outward focused. They include an ongoing campaign to collect maternity and children’s clothing, consistent participation in a community gardening project, and partnering with a local elementary school and a community action agency.
Tuesday’s neighborhood door-knocking campaign had been long planned as a way to let neighbors know of The Well’s presence, church member Bob Beyard said.
“It was also a way to give back to the community,” he said.
So when the e-mail went out that the fire station was being added to the lineup, Beyard said he considered it a stroke of genius. “I said ‘kudos,’” Beyard said. Firefighters “do so much for the community and they don’t get enough thanks.”
As she packaged chocolate cookies for distribution, church member Jenny Hamm said the fire station visit also helps heal the wounds caused by the 9-11 attacks.
“This is just a gift – a blessing – without expecting anything in return,” she said.
After a prayer and devouring a few boxes of pizza at a member’s Springfield home, Rogers led about 15 adults and children on a short walk to the station where they found Engine No. 2 parked inside the bay, its doors open and ready for action.
They were soon met by Sean O’Quinn, a 26-year-old firefighter and paramedic who looked stunned to see a pastor and her flock gathered in and around the station.
“We just wanted to let you know how thankful we are,” Rogers said, handing O’Quinn a large package of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
“These won’t last very long,” he said with a grin.