Clarksburg Baptist Church knows the power of prayer and the results of joining God at work — double-digit salvations recorded, doubled Sunday School enrollment in three months and the reality of a long-held vision.
Tucked into the heart of the Clarksburg community, located a few miles west of California, the congregation felt God moving them to touch each family in the town’s 142 homes.
Retired pastor Leroy Moon believes church members’ willingness to open their facility for the Concord Baptist Association children’s camp this summer was a catalyst that launched a revival spirit.
Concerns about cost and a desire to help children recognize their role in God’s kingdom prompted association leaders to look closer to home for a spot for children’s camp. The association does not have a retreat/camp center of its own and had usually sought space at other facilities.
The association already had meshed its 2009 youth camp into 3MT, short for Mid-Missouri Mission Team-LifeChangers. Founded in 2005, 3MT brings youth from the mid-state area together for discipleship and for service projects to local homeowners.
“We saw how 3MT was affecting our teenagers and recognized that our children can contribute to kingdom work,” Concord director of missions Calvin Brown noted. “We felt that we need to do more to involve our children in ministry and decided we needed to do a project — not something as large as 3MT, but to involve them in some types of mission projects.”
Associational leaders contacted churches with facilities that could accommodate children, including Clarksburg.
“We had to find a church [that] had the facilities to host such an event, but that also shared in the passion for children’s camp as well,” added camp coordinator Ryan Stiffler, pastor of Corticelli Baptist Church. “The church had to restructure its weekly services and allow all these kids and adults to basically take over their facilities.”
Clarksburg responded when the call went out. “Bro. Calvin called, knowing we have a gym,” Moon said.
“Clarksburg not only was open and willing to the idea, the people stepped up and helped in every imaginable way to ensure the success of the camp,” Stiffler said. “The benefits… were that we were able to keep the kids local, have them involved in local ministry/mission projects [and] enabled all the parents to join us for the closing service on Thursday night.”
“And the church just got excited about it,” Moon said. That excitement, he added, stemmed from watching the congregation’s vision — that the community’s children and families would find the Lord — unfold.
“About two years ago, I made a personal prayer list,” he explained. “We were going through a time of [having] no children [attending]. I prayed that God would bring children for our teachers to teach.”
Then he suggested to the congregation “how great it would be to have a small gym.” Such a facility could attract children and would allow older adults to host events at ground level. (The church’s fellowship hall is in its basement.)
As the building went up, hearts opened to other ministry possibilities. Patty Mallinson and Michelle Asahl founded Graces for Living to assist individuals in need, providing gifts last Christmas and backpacks and school supplies for 42 children this fall. About 70 percent of Clarksburg’s students qualify for government assistance.
Clarksburg Baptist opened its new family life center in 2008 with a basketball camp that attracted students. During the last school year, Moon, who coached for more than 20 years, offered a 3-on-3 basketball league for students each Saturday. Basketball camp was also provided this summer, attracting a school coach to participate.
When the association’s camp was announced, 10 Clarksburg community children signed up. “That included two who just walked up and asked if they could attend,” Moon said. “That really sparked our people. The vision for the building was causing something to happen.”
During camp, children and adults prayer-walked and canvassed the entire town. That opened the door to a record-breaking Vacation Bible School in August.
Asahl and son Carter knew many Clarksburg residents. Wanting VBS to be “really great,” they visited as many children as they could. As a result of their effort, more than 100 individuals, including workers, were pre-enrolled.
Before VBS, the church had only two children’s Sunday School classes. So many children responded that after VBS the children’s department was separated into five classes. Asahl restarted the congregation’s van ministry, and now makes two runs each Sunday morning. The church also continues to offer Discovery Club, an after-school program.
In early August, the church averaged 25 in Sunday School. Once the van ministry began, attendance rose to 30 to 34 by mid-August. By the end of the month, it reached an average of 40 to 44. The average rose through the 40s throughout September and reached the 50s on Oct. 4.
Worship attendance that had averaged 34 before VBS is now at between 55 and 60. And the congregation revived its children’s church program that now averages about 25. The growth has happened without an “official” pastor. Moon retired in April after a 24-year pastorate.
“Since he retired, we have stepped back, and it’s good to see some others taking over,” Moon’s wife Marietta said. “The spirit has been good…. God has been blessing.”
The church also is focusing on reaching parents. Several parents attended the association camp’s closing service. In addition to visiting families, the congregation hosted a concert by area singers and groups on Oct. 3. Members plan to offer events throughout the year.
And they continue to build relationships with community leaders. They have opened the family life center for community events. The Clarksburg Community Betterment Organization sometimes meets at the church.
The CCBO had hoped to allow the children’s camp to use its community building, located across the street from the church, but planned renovations were not completed in time. It has already offered the building for next year, and Clarksburg has already asked to host children’s camp in 2010.
Moon served as Clarksburg Baptist’s pastor for nearly 24 years. “We’ve ministered over the years, giving out light bulbs and other items. It seems like God is just blessing our faithfulness.”
Vicki Brown is Word&Way associate editor.