'Wise stewardship' leads Va. church to CP
DRAKES BRANCH, Va. (BP) -- Drakes Branch Baptist Church members' attention to the Word of God leads them to "wise stewardship" of their offerings, says Pastor Adam Blosser.
This includes generous support of missions through the Cooperative Program and seasonal missions offerings, with Drakes Branch Baptist routinely among the highest per-capita givers in the Baptist General Association of Virginia.
Through the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists work together to support the expansion of God's Kingdom locally, nationally and globally.
"We do not give to the Cooperative Program for what we get out of it," said Blosser, who is scheduled to graduate in May from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a master of divinity. "We give because we believe in the work the money is used for.... We believe the Cooperative Program is the best way for us to fund missions and theological education.
"We believe in the work that the [International and North American mission boards] are doing for the sake of the Gospel, and our church has benefitted greatly from the work of the Southern Baptist seminaries in training pastors."
Blosser added, "We want to give generously that the Kingdom of God may advance. Christ will build His church. We want to be part of that. We want to be counted faithful with the little."
Despite being a church of fewer than 100 people in Sunday morning worship, Drakes Branch Baptist has averaged giving -- in addition to 10 percent of undesignated receipts through CP -- $21,000 a year for the last five years to international missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, plus about $5,000 a year to North American missions through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.
The church also helped support a church plant in Washington, D.C., for four years until it grew to self-sufficiency. It anticipates helping with another church plant within a day's drive, so members again can be involved hands-on as well as financially and through prayer.
Internationally, Drakes Branch Baptist connects on a personal level with an IMB family ministering to an unreached people group in Asia; with a construction ministry in Honduras; and with Wycliffe Bible Translators.
"The people of our church have a hunger for the Word of God and a desire to honor Him with their lives," Blosser said. "Christ established His church here and has called us to be a Gospel witness to our community and the world."
Locally, members of the church build relationships by coaching youth sports teams, tutoring students at the community's Adult Learning Center, delivering meals to the elderly and ministering to inmates in prison.
Drakes Branch also reaches out to its community with relationship-building events and activities such as Easter festivals; VBS; midweek children's programming; free oil changes for widows and single moms; free water, popcorn and time in bounce houses for various community events; and backpacks filled with school supplies.
"We have also held Kingdom At Home prayer events, where we set up stations throughout the church," Blosser said. "We encourage members to travel to the various stations and pray for church ministries and community organizations."
Drakes Branch Baptist is a multi-generational church in a close-knit family town that is learning to see with God's heart, the pastor said, adding that followers of Christ must use their wealth "for eternal purposes."
"Faithfulness is not measured by how much you have," he said. "It is measured by what you do with what you have."
Drakes Branch community is located in a hilly and forested region of south-central Virginia on a state highway at least an hour away from either Interstate 81 or 95. The community branches off from Twitty Creek, which is a tributary of the Roanoke River.
In 1899, four years before Drakes Branch incorporated as a town, Southern Baptists started the church in a community surrounding a railroad way station.
"We are just a small church in the middle of nowhere," Blosser said. "I preach and teach the Bible, that God has a work He is doing in our world."
Sometimes the work close to home seems hardest, Blosser said. As can be true in the rural South, "cultural Christianity" plagues the area. The need for racial integration, he said, is another challenge for the town's churches.
"The churches have been segregated for so long that no one knows how to overcome that barrier," Blosser said. "I have a desire to see our local expression of the universal church more closely resemble the diversity of the Kingdom of God. ... We've been successful in putting together an inter-denominational community choir, but have not yet been successful in combining races."
Blosser has been at Drakes Branch Baptist for five years, first as children's minister. He was called as pastor in 2013 and has led the church to continue its missions partnerships.
"You can see the change that takes place over a period of time and the development of the work, and you develop a heart for it," he said. "It gives you a passion for praying for the work and the needs that exist."
Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).