Barnesville Baptist Church (BBC) members are celebrating their 150th anniversary this month. Founded on Sept. 24, 1871, it is the fifth-oldest church in the Montgomery Baptist Association. The “little church on a hill,” as Senior Pastor Danny Moore affectionately calls it, has met in the same facilities, at the exact location, since its founding. Around 80 faithful members gather together weekly to enjoy traditional services and family-like fellowship.
No one would suspect this tiny church, tucked away in the farmland of Montgomery County, of making a worldwide impact for Christ — but it is.
The congregation — which Moore described as “mission-minded” from the beginning — has experienced a revival leading to creative community outreach over the last several years. God has opened many doors for BBC to engage those in need around them.
A feeding ministry was one of the first steps in their outreach efforts. Members began to gather twice a week to hand out food and small Bibles to those in need. In addition, they would talk to people, get to know their stories, and share the gospel.
“So many conversations happen in the back of a pickup truck when you hand someone a bag of food and a Bible,” Moore said, shaking his head. “We thought it would help the community, but who knew that we would have such an outpouring, including many from the Hispanic community, forming relationships, inviting us to birthday parties and events … It has opened up a ministry for hundreds to receive the gospel. We have had many come to know the Lord and join the church through the food ministry.”
The church further expanded its evangelism and community outreach when it turned to a nursing home ministry.
It started with an elderly member of the church who was upset about moving to assisted living because she realized she could no longer participate in church services. The church began live streaming their services on Facebook, using a cell phone on a stand, specifically so that this member could participate.
“We got a call from the assisted living home not long after that,” Moore said. “They wanted to know if they could stream the services for everyone in the facility.”
With the facility’s blessing, they began streaming an hour-long live service in the assisted living home every week and then expanded this ministry until they were streaming services at four different locations.
The church realized the outreach potential of live streaming and invested in better equipment. When COVID-19 hit — causing the temporary (and sometimes permanent) closure of churches worldwide — BBC was already set up for success. Their feeding ministry became more popular than ever, and they vastly expanded their online viewership.
“God did this, not us! We started this ministry to help one lady in our church stay connected. We had never even heard of COVID-19,” Moore said. “We now have about 700 people per week viewing our services.”
Among those 700 are folks from a local drug rehab facility that streams the services to 60 residents each week. There’s also a Church of God in a closed country that had been without a pastor. That church reached out to BBC and said that they now consider themselves a part of the congregation, with Moore as their pastor.
“COVID-19 forced us to come out of our traditional mold,” Moore said. “Even with our facility shut down, we never lost a member. Not one. We grew.”
Moore attributes part of the growth to the church’s commitment to reminders and outreach directed towards regular attenders. Twice per month, Moore and a group of volunteers from the church would head to the local market and purchase fresh, prepackaged meals. They would then drop off enough food for entire families on the members’ porches with a note that said, “Enjoy a meal with your family,” and simple written notes telling members, “Remember you are loved.” Then they would ring the doorbell and leave.
“That’s the greatest thing we’ve ever done here,” Moore said, with tears streaming down his cheeks. “Whoever thought some chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans in a Styrofoam container would be one of the strongest tools this church has ever used to remind people they are not forgotten? We’ve gotta care!”
Once the church reopened, every regular attendee came back — and many brought family members with them who came because of the food. As a result, more people began to be saved and baptized at the church than ever before.
A close friend of Moore challenged him regarding discipleship. “God is blessing you with these salvations and baptisms, but what are you doing about discipleship?” he gently prodded Moore. Naturally, at first, Moore felt the rumblings of defensiveness. They had classes and other strategies in place, but then God worked on his heart, and he knew it was true. The church had to do more.
“I met together with my deacons to figure out what we should do,” Moore said. “One of them said, ‘My son listens to podcasts all day,’ and we all thought ‘What a neat idea.’”
Since then, Moore has worked with his leadership team to record Scripture-packed podcasts, between five and eight minutes long, that share basic theological information with new believers. They are recorded in an interview style and include topics such as the authority of Scripture, who Jesus is, the meaning of the cross, the importance of church attendance, tithing, and more. They are releasing podcasts monthly.
“One hundred and eighty-seven people listened to the podcast the first week,” said Moore. “Ninety-seven percent of them listened to the whole message, and I got fifteen emails from people asking questions. That’s all you could ever ask for.”
Moore and his people are excited for what God has in store for their church. Barnesville has a passion for reaching the lost, giving one-third of their budget directly to missionaries on the field and through the Cooperative Program. Moore admits that the church will likely never grow to be a congregation that runs thousands, but he said that being a “sending church” is part of the congregation’s DNA.
Moore said the church’s vision is “We all need each other to be all that God wants us to be.”
Anniversary activities are planned for Sept. 24–26. “The theme is ‘Celebrating 150 Years of God’s Faithfulness,’” Moore said. “We’ll be preaching that all weekend and praying that we will remain faithful to God for whatever years we have ahead of us.”
Sharon Mager is a Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware communications specialist and BaptistLIFE church correspondent.
Cover photo: Pastor Danny Moore baptizes Noah Arthur (photo by Lee Michael).