For members of Cool Springs Baptist Church, “reorientation” means leaving the pews and venturing out into their local neighborhoods.

Pastor Matt Martin of Cool Springs Baptist Church in Sanford, N.C., is eager for his congregation to leave the pews.

Formerly a missionary in East Africa, Martin has a vision to see his church go out into the Sanford community and bring the gospel to unbelievers.

“[A friend of mine] always says that we must ‘reorient our lives to reaching the unreached,’” Martin said. “We just get on our little calendars and our little boxes, and we do our routines … but if we really want to reach the unreached, we really must reorient our lives, step out of our daily lives.”

His friend, Brian Stephens, is a missionary Martin works with in Cincinnati, who works with unreached people groups in the city.

To Martin and the members of Cool Springs, “reorientation” means leaving the pews and venturing out into their local neighborhoods. This drive to be on mission resonates through every major activity and program of the church, culminating in an intensive, church-wide program called “Beyond the Walls” week.

From Oct. 12-16, nearly 150 members of the church stepped out of their normal routines to participate in Beyond the Walls. Members were divided into different service teams to focus on a wide range of projects.

The church’s fall festival, hosted in a local park, allowed members to interact with a large turnout of Sanford families. Games, cotton candy, snow cones and a prayer table all led the way to gospel conversations.

“We had multiple families that we met on that day and were able to share Christ with that were unchurched,” Martin said, “and they showed up in church the next day.”

Modeled after N.C. Baptist’s Coats for the City, Cool Springs hosted their own coat distribution project in Sanford’s downtown. Coats and other essentials were passed out to impoverished families in different Sanford neighborhoods.

In partnership with North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry, a men’s group built a ramp for an elderly couple. The couple called the group “an answer to prayer.”

“[They] hadn’t been able to get out or do anything,” Martin said. “[The group was] able to be a great encouragement to them.”

The youth spent the week packing bags to be distributed to the homeless in Sanford. The bags included sanitary items, clothing and other essential items.

Children participated in an activity called “Jesus Rocks.” Each child was given a rock to paint, and on the back of the rock they wrote a brief gospel presentation. They then went with their families to hide the rocks in parks, neighborhoods and beaches across the state.

Several groups from the church visited Sanford’s nursing homes for games, singing and devotions with the elderly.

To cap off the week, Cool Springs invited different guest preachers, including N.C. Baptist Great Commission Catalyst Mike Sowers, to speak during their Sunday services on the theme of living on mission.

Reflecting on the event, Sowers said, “It was amazing to see a church like Cool Springs engage their community. They are a church that is engaged with work around the world and in North America, and this week just highlighted their heart to take the gospel into their community as well.”

Martin emphasized that this week of ministry is indicative of a larger pattern in the church. “We don’t just go into our community once every other year. We’re constantly in our community.”

Listening to Martin, it becomes clear that Cool Springs exhibits this “beyond the walls” lifestyle throughout the year.

The church continues to search for ways to increase its presence in Sanford’s “pockets of lostness,” which includes Sanford’s downtown and rural neighborhoods. This past spring, Cool Springs created a team dedicated to ministry strategy in the “pockets of lostness” areas. Now, the church is beginning to partner with a local school downtown to eventually start prayer groups and after-school programs in this major “pocket of lostness” site.

To me, when you look at Scripture, we are to unify around the Word of God and around the mission of God. … When we really are on mission together … it is unifying.

Matt Martin

In 2012 Cool Springs adopted a West African people group, making efforts to engage them in Senegal, New York, Cincinnati and locally. The church has sent teams to Cincinnati to partner with a missionary couple — Stephens and his wife — reaching West Africans.

Earlier this year, the church assisted the missionary couple in Cincinnati by helping raise funds for a community center in an area with a significant West African population.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the church also sent multiple mission teams into Raleigh to find and minister to West Africans in the area.

“We have a heart not just to send people to other countries, but to find [unreached people groups] right here,” Martin said.

Cool Springs lives as a church “reoriented,” where its members go beyond the walls and into neighborhoods, schools, community centers, nursing homes, homeless shelters, beaches and parks to share the light of Christ.

“To me, when you look at Scripture, we are to unify around the Word of God and around the mission of God,” Martin said. “I see that very clearly in our church and the ‘Big C’ church. When we really are on mission together … it is unifying.

“Our heart is, locally, we want to see those numbers in those pockets of lostness move in the right direction. We want to be a part of that as God leads us.”