Hosted by Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville, a kickoff rally gave regional churches the chance to connect with local organizations and ministries as they begin to plan their projects for “ServeNC.”

As pastors, church leaders and community members from across Cumberland County gathered at Arran Lake Baptist Church in Fayetteville on Thursday, May 23, Pastor Jeff Isenhour challenged them with the following question: If your church ceased to exist, would anybody even care?

“That (question) kept us up at night,” said Isenhour, who serves as co-pastor with Andrew Clark at Arran Lake. 

Isenhour shared with the gathering that when Clark joined the church’s staff a few years ago, the two became convinced that their church needed to do more to ensure that question could be answered in the affirmative. Since then, Arran Lake has strived to make an impact in their community — and they’re encouraging other churches to do the same. 

“It doesn’t take much,”  Isenhour said. “A little caring, a little effort, a little serving, and God will honor it.” 

Caring and serving were in the spotlight on Thursday night as Arran Lake hosted a kickoff rally for area churches in preparation for “ServeNC,” a statewide N.C. Baptist initiative that encourages churches to complete service projects in their local communities. 

The kickoff rally gave regional churches the chance to connect with local organizations and ministries as they begin to plan their “ServeNC” service projects, which will commence in early August. The rally also provided attendees the opportunity to receive training, pray over “ServeNC” and community outreach opportunities, and connect with other ministry leaders in the area to strengthen missional partnerships. 

Clark shared that he hoped this night — and other nights like this — would serve as a moment of unity for churches focused on the mission.

“We truly are better together,” Clark said. 

The “ServeNC” rally began with a time of worship and evangelism training, led by N.C. Baptist Mission Catalyst Barry Murry. Tying the “ServeNC” initiative to the Bible’s calling to proclaim the gospel, Murry encouraged the gathering to live into their identity as God’s chosen people. 

We’re never more like Christ and who He calls us to be than when we just simply show up and serve,” Murry said. 

Murry said this calling as children of God is what motivates believers to share the hope of the gospel with others.

“(I’m) so thankful that we as the people of God, the chosen people of God, can come together to worship Him and just remind each other (that) as we serve, we can be proclaimers of this good news that has given us eternal life,” Murry said. 

If your church ceased to exist, would anybody even care?

Following Murry’s address, certain vendors in attendance were invited to share about their work in the community and offered attendees several ways to connect in service partnerships. 

One vendor, a local elementary school principal, expressed that she was extremely grateful for their partnership with Arran Lake and looked forward to seeing others in the community join their efforts. The principal’s school is located across the street from Arran Lake, and the church has been supporting the school for a number of years by running toy and gift card drives, hosting school events, securing donations for school building upgrades and more.

“(They’ve) been instrumental in fostering a true sense of community, contributing to the success of all our students and helping boost staff morale for our school,” said Casey Yates, principal of Brentwood Elementary School in Fayetteville. 

After closing the rally with a time of prayer, attendees were given the opportunity to connect with local vendors, which included ministries and organizations such as Fayetteville Urban Ministry, Second Harvest Food Bank, Operation Inasmuch, Motorcycle Missionary and the Rick Herrema Foundation. In total, seven churches from Cumberland County and the surrounding area were represented at the rally.

For one pastor, the kickoff event served as a necessary reminder of the importance of uniting under the mission.

Kevin Duffy, discipleship and missions pastor at The Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville, expressed that this rally further encouraged him to see the church as “one voice” speaking to a lost world. 

“This is a huge opportunity for the church in Fayetteville to gather as one man with one voice, declaring the same message as we serve the community and put the love of God on display,” Duffy said. “The community not only sees us love them, but as we’re loving them, they see us love each other.”

The “ServeNC” initiative is scheduled to take place Aug. 3-10, with churches planning outreach projects in communities all across North Carolina. As of Tuesday, May 28, more than 870 churches have committed to participate. Churches can learn more and sign up to join at servenc.com.