WARTBURG — At first, it might sound like a strange melding of demographics: widows and young adults.
But at First Baptist Church, Wartburg, these two groups are forming friendships and kinships.
“There’s a fantastic synergy between the two groups within our church,” said FBC senior pastor Matt Ward.
The connections have emerged in prominent ways in recent weeks after a young adults Sunday School class at FBC started a ministry called “Wisdom from Widows.” The concept for the ministry came from FBC young adult leaders Marvin and Tammy Howard, who helped put the wheels in motion.
“I did not shoehorn this ministry — nor was it my idea,” said Ward. “That’s what makes this ministry so encouraging to me. When discipleship is taking place, the natural outflow of that is people, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, looking for ways for the love of Christ to come out. This ministry, in my opinion, is the natural outworking of discipleship.”
The two groups recently held their first joint event — sharing a meal together in which the young adults prepared the food and served the widows. These types of gatherings will be taking place frequently in the future, Ward said.
“They spent meaningful time fellowshipping with one another,” said Ward, “and they will continue to do that monthly (for the foreseeable future).”
Joe Sorah, Harvest Field ministry team leader for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said he was excited to hear about the connections that are being made at FBC.
“In a day when division seems to be rampant, it is refreshing to see a church taking seriously the call to be the family of God,” said Sorah. “God’s family isn’t made up of identical persons. Rather, the family of God is like our biological families, with young and old, mixed together with all ages. The younger can learn from the old, and the older can receive ministry from the young.”
Ward applauded the Howards, Marvin and Tammy, for having the vision to bring this ministry to life.
“They have found the right balance between taking ownership of the young adult ministry and keeping it tied into the overall mission of the church,” Ward said. “Our Church’s mission statement is four-fold — Know Christ, Serve Christ, Share Christ and Grow Believers. This ministry hits three of the four bullets for us.”
“We see both our young adults and our widows loving each other with the love of Christ which serves, shares and grows,” he said.
Ward said it didn’t take long to see the importance of this ministry and to understand how well it would work.
“When the Howards (first) discussed the upcoming year with the young adults, they decided that our widows were a ready-made service opportunity once per quarter,” said Ward. “But what’s funny is that, after the first meeting, the widows determined that the young adults were a ready-made service opportunity once per month.”
Sorah said he would love to see other churches develop similar ministries — and a similar mindset — to FBC.
“What these members are doing at First Wartburg should inspire each of us to reach out and minister to one another in the name of Christ,” said Sorah. “All benefit when we value and serve one another in the body of Christ.”
The recent fellowship meal with the two groups also introduced a “name-swapping” system that was designed to help build relationships.
“With the name swaps, the goal is that over the next several months, the pairings of young adults/widows will look for opportunities to get to know each other, show love to one another, and just generally care for one another,” said Ward.
Ward said he believes the Wisdom from Widows ministry will continue to grow. The ministry could also perhaps be a model for other groups in the church to form new relationships.
“This is an exciting ministry with limitless potential moving forward,” Ward said.
Sorah agreed that the ministry can extend in the months ahead.
“I think this ministry has the potential to be a beautiful blessing to all those involved,” Sorah said. “Our senior adults deserve to be shown love and respect. What better way to do so than to serve them, spend time together, and listen to one another?
“We need each other in our church families,” he said. “This model can be replicated and repeated in various forms in our churches. You just need someone that will take the lead and make it happen. Good intentions won’t make it happen. Someone must see the need and lead the way.” B&R