By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
NASHVILLE — With hopes of harvesting the mission field that exists in their own backyard, the congregations from First Baptist Church, Joelton, and New Season Church recently joined together to host a community-wide gathering in which the two churches provided a free meal for those who live in the underprivileged neighborhood in north Nashville.
“It was a very effective outreach,” said David Royalty, the pastor of First Baptist. “We gave away clothes, shoes, and the meal. Anyone on Buchanan was invited to come and eat.”
New Season, a church plant, is one of several “ministry partner churches” supported by FBC. Working together, the two churches are seeking ways to reach a community that is often besieged with crime.
“It’s one of the poorest and most troubled areas in Nashville,” said Royalty. “The (free-meal event) was a great opportunity for our two churches. You are within walking distance of hundreds of people.”
The ministry was connected with a three-day tent revival that was being hosted on that same site by New Season Church. Dwayne Lewis, the pastor at New Season, said reaching the community with these types of ministries is his top priority.
“Outreach is what I love,” Lewis said. “It is my passion. We are hoping to turn the (community meal) into an annual thing, and we want to include more churches in the years ahead and get them involved. God wants partnerships among the churches.”
In addition to providing a ministry to the local area, the event also illustrated that churches with different backgrounds can come together for the unified purpose of showing Christ’s love. (First Baptist Joelton’s membership is mostly white, while the majority of the congregation at New Season is African-American).
Royalty said there was essentially “a 50-50 split” in terms of representatives from each of the two churches at the event, demonstrating the bond between the two congregations. Lewis said he was excited with the impact that the ministry had in the area.
The gathering was featured by WKRN on the station’s nightly news in Nashville.
The ministry provided an avenue for members from both congregations to share the gospel. “One of the guys from our church witnessed to a 16-year-old young man and led him to Christ,” said Royalty.
Royalty said he was excited to see many young adults at the gathering. “We had a large number of college students,” he said. “We have a strong student ministry at our church, and a lot of them were down there, helping out.”
Lewis said he wants to see people from all walks of life — regardless of race or age — come to see Christ, and said he was pleased to see the two churches go the extra mile in terms of encouraging the community to come to the gathering.
“We got in the church van and rode down the streets, saying to people ‘hey, do you want to eat?” he said. “And most importantly, we were able to share the gospel with them.”
New Season Church has also reached out to the community in other ways in recent days, including hosting a “fellowship at the park” event that featured corn hole, inflatable bounce houses, and food. The church also hosted a free, community-wide fish fry in which the church gave away fish sandwiches.